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Meet Pem Dunn

Written by Scott Gibson on .

When one considers the “creative” right brain and the more “analytical” left brain, long-time Evergreen resident Pem Dunn may be the perfect example of someone who has achieved a balance between the two. Now retired from his jobs as a pilot with both the Navy and United Airlines, Pem is an award-winning artist whose work has been displayed in such publications as Western Art Collector and Southwest Art Magazine.

He is represented locally by Evergreen Fine Art Gallery, by The Elk Horn Gallery in Winter Park, and The Howard/Mandville Gallery in Kirkland, Washington. In his spare time, he teaches oil painting at Center for the Arts Evergreen, as well as conducting classes through Evergreen Fine Art Gallery.

“From early on, I had an equal interest in both aviation and in painting: the ‘tech’ side, versus the ‘other’ side,” he explains.

Born in Massachusetts, Pem grew up in upstate New York. Following college, he reported to flight school in Pensacola and then took his advanced training in Corpus Christie where he met his wife JoAnn.

“We were introduced by a friend of mine,” he reports. “My buddy said to me, ‘I just met the girl you’re going to marry,’ and he set us up on a first date.” The couple dated for just three weeks before Pem was assigned to a squadron in Rhode Island, where he flew aircraft carriers. “We spent a total of only six weeks together that first year.” Nevertheless, he knew, just as his friend had predicted, that JoAnn was the woman he was destined to marry.

Even then, with all of his naval duties, he continued to paint. “It was always something I did. In fact, in college, I made extra money by doing portraits of my buddies’ girlfriends.”

He remained in the Navy for seven years, transferring to Bellevue, Washington, where he was assigned to the NROTC Unit at the University of Washington. Following this assignment, he joined United Airlines and the family moved to New Jersey while Pem worked out of the New York area.

“Gradually, though, I began to feel that life had become too technical, and I found my focus shifting more to the artistic side,” he says. He had been studying with an artist who mentored him for 10 years. This man owned a gallery and began showing Pem’s work. “This was when my painting career really took off.”

The Dunn Family moved to Evergreen in 1984, having visited the area many times to see friends. By this time, their daughter Laurie was attending CU, and when their son Scott graduated high school, the family made a permanent shift to Colorado. They lived in a cabin at the rear of Spruce Island Chalets on Brook Forest Road while their own home was being built.

Pem works in oils, primarily doing landscapes. His focus is most often on Colorado locations, but he has also painted locations in Wyoming and New Mexico. “I’m trying to capture a fleeting experience. I look at something, and then fix it in my mind,” he explains. “For a painting to be successful, I don’t want to just copy a scene, but to take the most striking elements from it, and create an emotional impact.”

In their spare time, the family spends time at their vacation cabin in Tabernash (located on the other side of Berthoud Pass), where they like to hike, kayak and ski.

JoAnn has been an active member with The Evergreen Chorale for many years. She and their granddaughter Katrina just appeared together in The Chorale’s production of “Guys and Dolls.” Pem says, “It’s a very nice relationship, because JoAnn has the music, and I have the painting.”

For more information on Pem and his work, check out his website at http://www.pemdunnart.com/

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