Dale’s Story

Dale Diesel is a painter, photographer, sculptor and illustrator living and working in Big Sur.

“I was an artist back in Cincinnati, I also taught drawing. My dream to live in the heart of Nature is a reality.”

Dale writes, “In the Spring of 2007 I served on the board of directors for the Big Sur Arts Initiative. The director asked me if I would be interested in showing my work in their Studio One Gallery at the River Inn Village Shops. The title of the show, Darn Glad to Be Here, then became the name of the Gallery today. The gratitude also continues today.”

Please find below the invitation from 2007 and the resulting newspaper article.

“In December of 2013, I let go of everything, I didn’t get into the Gallery when my house burned in a wildfire. A film crew was shooting a documentary on Big Sur artists. These two videos resulted:”


Original Invitation from 2007:


Newspaper Article from 07/27/2007:

Carpenter trades hammer for paintbrush

SHORTLY AFTER moving to Big Sur from Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1984, Dale Diesel was hired to be a caretaker for a Big Sur artist, Claus Gorges. Little did he know then, but Diesel would wake up one morning and discover that he, too, was a Big Sur artist.

“One of my responsibilities as a caretaker was to set up an easel for Claus,” explained Diesel, whose artwork will be the subject of a new show, “Glad To Be Here,” opening Sunday, July 29, at Studio One in Big Sur. “One morning, I said to him, ‘I’d really like to be here painting all day.’ That very day, I crashed my motorcycle and broke my wrist.”

The next morning, Claus was at Diesel’s door. “He said, ‘Bring your brushes and paint,'” Diesel recalled. “He had a 4-foot-by-4-foot canvas set up on his deck for me. I painted on it with my left hand.”

When Diesel first arrived in Big Sur, he figured his woodworking skills would help establish him in a state where houses were sprouting up everywhere. Art, though, was never far from his mind. As a child growing up in Cincinnati, Diesel admired the impressionist paintings of his great-uncle, Francoise Gerarden, which hung on the walls of his parents’ home. He was also mesmerized by the drawings of a classmate that often distracted him from lectures.

After graduating from high school, Diesel studied commercial art at a local college for two years. But he was young and restless and, in 1966, announced to his parents he was moving to California. Their reply was not favorable. “If you move to California, don’t plan on coming back,” Diesel recalled his father saying. So he enrolled instead at the Cincinnati Art Academy.

After graduating from art school, Diesel worked for more than a decade as a commercial artist, often designing ads for Cincinnati companies such as Procters Gamble. He also produced television commercials, published a non profit art magazine and even designed a series of cartoons illustrating the history of transportation for the city’s buses. But the lure of commercial art — and the Midwest — was fading for Diesel.

Going to Cali
Diesel moved west after his close friend, Big Sur architect and former Cincinnati resident Ned Callihan, sent him a life-altering video one chilly winter day. The video showed Callihan basking in the warm California sun between soaks in the Esalen hot tubs. Diesel, who was shivering through another Cincinnati winter, had suffered enough of the cold and soon was packing his bags for Big Sur.

After working as a caretaker and studying massage at the Esalen Institute, Diesel eventually settled into a construction job with a local contractor, Frank Pinney. But as the years passed, Diesel found it impossible to set aside his brush and easel. He cofounded a local painting group, the Big Sur Realists, and painting has become as much part of his routine as pounding nails.

After living in Big Sur for more than two decades, Diesel has only one regret — he wishes he had moved sooner. “Moving here was like going to artist heaven,” Diesel said. “After 38 years in Cincinnati, it was my good fortune to land in magical Big Sur. It’s just a wonderful place to be. I’m darn glad to be here.”

In addition to his colorful and playful oil paintings, Diesel’s exhibit will feature watercolors, photographs and sculptures created from discarded construction materials. Gallery One will host a reception Sunday at 4 p.m. The Gallery is located in the Village Shops, just south of the Big Sur River Inn and about 24 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1. For more information, call ‭(831) 595-3668‬.

Carmel Pine Cone, 07/27/2007

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