Talent and Resiliency, Art Patron Magazine, February 2019

DELOS VAN EARL Embraces Change

I have been told that the buzzword for 2019 is "resiliency."  That and longevity are the goals many artists seek in pursuit of a successful career, particularly success success in the field is often dependent upon world order, financial markets and the whims of collectors and agents.  Only the most talented and resilient survive.  Coachella Valley mixed media artist and sculptor Delos Van Earl fits that bill. He has successfully traversed the economic downturn of 2008 and continues to explore and evolve creatively.


Van Earl was born in the state of Washington, grew up in Crescent City, California, and went ton to earn his B.A. from Chico State University and his M.F.A. from Mills College in Oakland.  But living in a logging family amidst the beautiful natural environment of the Northwest, with its ocean waters, river and forests, was a key early influence on his sculptures, which employ bronze, steel and wood and which range from pedestal-sized pieces to large outdoor works.  His resume lists numerous solo and group exhibitions, and his work is in both corporate and public collections. Comfortable in his own skin, he is happy to discuss both the business and creative sides of an artist's life.

Van Earl's move from Sacramento to Desert Hot Springs in 1987 turned out to be a pivotal event in his artistic development.  His career took off after he received a prestigious purchases award from the Bowers Museum in Santa Anna and was invited to mount a solo show at the Riverside Museum.  From fairs to galleries , from collectors to dealers, he was suddenly in demand. His steel sculptures, with their distinctive fractured corners, were selling out, and collectors were looking for more and more pieces. In fact, Earl's work was in such demand that it caused his health to suffer. He knew change was in order-and soon change was going to be necessary for many artists.

The economic crisis of 2008 drove a number of artists to seek new directions in their careers as galleries and collectors stepped back. It seemed as if everything had changed overnight, and while the crash set most on their heels.  Van Earl, who considers himself a survivor, chose to pull into rather than out pf the artists's life.  He instinctively knew it was necessary to make both business and personal adjustments, so he proceeded to modify his business model and explore a new creative direction.  While some have said that for Van Earl it's all about business, he strongly objects. "For me," hr says, "it;s all about the work. My goal is to be as good as I can be, to create great art. I know I may fail, but for me it is about the journey."


When I met Van Earl for an interview at his Yucca Valley Studio and gallery om late 2018, I found a happy, bright and colorful space and couldn't help but notice the changes in the artist's creative direction. His new work consists of large freestanding and wall-mounted sculptures in exciting colors and shapes. There are pieces large and small that he calls "creatures" - frogs, sea horses and rabbits - and colors in his palette-oranges, bright yellows and lime greens - that are starkly different from the deeper reds he has been known for.

His new work takes Van Earl back to his childhood, back to the days he remembers fondly of Danish modern furniture, low sofas, the Seattle World's Fair of 1962, girls in polka dot dresses and go-go boots, and miniature gold courses and trampoline parks.  Despite the changes in his creative direction, his guiding principle remains the same: an insistence on quality, craftsmanship and integrity.

Van Earl is not afraid of change: in fact, he embraces it. "I want to continue to do work that reflects my time and culture, " he insists. His commitment to his art and his life as an artist exemplify his resiliency and longevity. As a beginning artist, he was often singled out as the next great thing, "which is not always the best thing to hear when you're young, " he points out, explaining that it's important to have to fight for success if you want to make a living in the field. "For me, it was the wolf at the door that made me work hard to become a successful artist."

How does Van Earl see his future? "I hope to continue to work and be healthy. I want the eighty-year-old me to be doing new things. I want another run at it because things don't get better than that."

I hope you have the opportunity to meet Delos Van Earl at his studio in Yucca Valley. Find out more at his website, delosvanearlstudios.com, and read my full interview with him at artistnarratives.com or judynemersklar.com.