Masters in Quarantine: Artist Dyana Hesson
Sonoran Scout is checking in with some Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winners to ask them how they are spending these days at home.
By Robert Danielson
The first in a series, today we are visiting with botanical artist Dyana Hesson, who was a Masters of the Southwest winner in 2017.
Always up for a good adventure, as a kid in Northern California she was happiest exploring outdoors and rarely settled down to read a book all the way through. She found art at Arizona State University, and has been painting professionally for 29 years. Dyana lives in Mesa, Arizona with her husband Randy, daughter Sydney and Jack Russell terrier, Boon. She has a case of incurable wanderlust, and a love affair with God’s creations. Her work is collected worldwide and her series, True Blue Arizona was featured in Arizona Highways Magazine in March 2020.
Phoenix Home & Garden: How are you spending your days in quarantine?
Dyana Hesson: Life has not changed much if you are an artist. So much of our time is in the studio alone. But my weekends have been spent out and about exploring Arizona and gathering inspiration for new paintings. Gas has been cheap, and roadways uncrowded, it is the perfect time to get out. Exploration is vital for my work and soul, so I’m grateful we’ve had such a beautiful spring here in Arizona.
PHG: What has been most challenging during these times?
DH: I had the biggest show of my career scheduled to open at Bonner David Galleries on March 27. That didn’t happen, and like so many other people, I felt extreme disappointment. I so wanted to gather with my collectors and friends to celebrate a years’ worth of hard work. But that setback quickly turned to gratitude. We almost had a sold-out show! My collectors are THE best.
PHG: Have you acquired a new hobby or conquered a longterm goal during the past weeks?
DH: I am sleeping more, eating better and laughing a lot. I find my social time, while not out at my favorite Arizona restaurants, is still sweet and very unhurried and satisfying. For my own sanity I started dressing up, full hair and makeup on Friday nights. Sometimes we go get take-out or run to Ace Hardware. I post my efforts on my social media, and I hope it cheers people up and gives them a laugh. I told my husband when this is all over, I’m going to keep the habit, but we will go OUT every Friday night. #alldressedupandnowheretogo I can’t wait to get back to My Sister’s Closet to select more dresses.
PHG: Have you learned anything or been enlightened by spending this time in quarantine?
DH: I listen to a lot of audio books while I paint. I love history and autobiographies. What stands out to me, as I learn more about our world’s history, is that there is nothing new under the sun. I recently finished The Agony and the Ecstasy about Michelangelo’s life. My goodness, the things that happened during his life time–plagues, famine, overthrown governments. And yet, he worked every day of his life, had what he needed, and died an old man. That is my plan.
PHG: What is your opinion on re-opening the state. How and when?
DH: Now. With the understanding that every business, and individual gets to choose what they are comfortable doing. Some of my dearest friends are small business owners, and I’m looking forward to hearing the good news of their recoveries. Arizonans are hardy folk.
PHG: What is the best advice you would give to others who are isolated?
DH: That is the absolute saddest thing about this whole situation: All of life’s struggles are still present. Cancer, depression, aging, isolation. People felt alone before. Perhaps the imaginative ways we have created to connect with others will stick. Zoom with Grandma, grocery shop for a neighbor, continue the sweet connections you have made. So, my advice is not so much for the isolated, it is for the rest of us: REACH OUT. No man left behind.
PHG: What have you missed the most during the past weeks?
DH: Air travel, Art galleries, museums, the Zoo, happy hour OUT!
PHG: What have you missed the least?
DH: An uber-busy schedule. I work too much. I’m breathing now.
PHG: What do you think Arizona will look like when this crisis has passed?In good ways, and in not-so-good ways?
DH: We will be fine. People who were creative and worked hard before will do so again. It will be inspiring to watch. And the deeper answer to that question is that Arizona will look like it always has. The sun will rise and set, the Colorado river will flow, the monsoon season will storm, and the cactus flowers will bloom. And we will marvel at it all.
Dyana is currently working on a painting now an octopus agave that bloomed at her home during all this mess (pictured above).
She said, “When we moved to this house in 1996, I rescued some octopus agave pups from a neighbor’s plant. They were in pots, then in the garden, and then I planted them as focal points along my courtyard wall.
“In early March I noticed two plants sent up their florescence. That means the mother plants, after using every last bit of recourses to create new life, will soon die. We watched daily as the stalks filled with wide-open blooms, and the bees and the hummingbirds rushed to them compulsively, doing their job to continue the life cycle.
“Sounds deep huh? Well, that’s God’s creation for you. If we care for it, it teaches us, brings us beauty, enriches our lives. And that’s why I paint what I paint. I don’t get tired of these little miracles, of these lessons. Soon I’ll be collecting pups and starting over. I should be finished with a painting of this miracle about the time Arizona starts to reopen. I think I will call it Open for Business.”
Robert Danielson is a 35-year career journalist, marketing and public relations expert. He joins us here at Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine as he explores the Valley as a newcomer to our region. Please welcome him by e-mailing him at RDanielson61@gmail.com