Artists of Humboldt Part 1: Learning about the People Behind the Pictures

HUMBOLDT COUNTY (KIEM) – Art. It’s a way for a person to express themselves, share their ideas and imagination with the world. But it can also be a struggle for people who pursue it. There are many challenges for artists here on the North Coast.   

Just like the murals that are seen around Eureka, art paints the town.

“As humans, we’re sensory beings,” says Eureka City Council Member Leslie Castellano, “so we’re inhabiting a world that is more alive when we have art around us.”

It adds color, life, and a sense of quirkiness like no other.

“What do you ever need art for? Art is something that brings life and joy,” said Eureka City Mayor Susan Seaman.

But have you ever wondered about the people behind the paintings?

“I create what I like to think is a mixture of Tim Burton and Lisa Frank,” Dakota Daetwiler.

Dakota Daetwiler is one of those minds.

“It’s like a crazy dark, kind of fantastical surrealism,” said Daetwiler.

In 2015, Dakota lost her first art gallery in the Star Hotel Fire in Fortuna. She was devastated and tried to save as many of her precious paintings as she could.

“It was awful, it was four in the morning,” said Dakota, “fire was spreading through the attic of the building, so they were spraying water on top and so water was coming down through my store.”

 “It’s been four years. I try to move forward and let it go.”

Coming back from the loss of her gallery was not an easy process. She worked to create an online presence. In hopes, that one day she can re-open the gallery she once lost.

“I started doing online lessons and livestreaming and things like that,” said Dakota. “Those are kind of popular right now to gain more of following and my goal was always to reopen.”

That day finally came.

“I felt like I didn’t want to redo it without it everything I ever wanted, so we took our time and made it our dream.”

Re-opening her gallery was one of Dakota’s biggest hurdles. Now, it’s about being able to share her vision with not just North Coast people. But outside the Redwood Curtain.

“I think the biggest struggle is reaching those people who would buy your originals.”

There are challenges that still lie ahead. But for Dakota, there’s still a bigger picture.

“My biggest goal is to be destination in Humboldt,” said Dakota. “But I want to get good enough and well known enough, globally and nationally, that people will come here and see my art.”

“Making a living is just one of the many issues that artists face. Another ongoing problem is graffiti. But there are several artists here in Humboldt using their talents to combat that.

Samantha Moore. A cat enthusiast! But behind the shades, lies another artistic soul.

She is a graphic designer with her own set of unique cat toys. But also used a utility box as her canvas. Turning it into something fun, bright, and quirky.

“Most people laugh at it and it makes me happy cause that’s the goal,” says Samantha “it’s cats as food, they’re silly drawings.”

Her painted utility boxes are her first murals. They are 2 boxes that bring splashes of color around eureka.

“I use the bold colors,” said Samantha. “I really enjoy technology to help me do my art.”

But they do more than that. Her work helps combat the ongoing graffiti problem.

“In most cases, people that engage in graffiti, do not put their graffiti on top of art,” said Rob Holmlund, Director of Development Service for Eureka.

Graffiti isn’t the only problem that Samantha encountered. About a year ago, one of Samantha’s first paintings was removed. After a local business complained about the artwork.

“I was in disbelief,” said Samantha. “I didn’t think anybody wass going to do that, and low and behold is happened.”

Samantha was shocked by the news. But the community rallied behind her and she received an outpour of support.

Since then, the City Of Eureka gave the Cat Food box a new home. Now you can’t miss it when driving down Fifth Street.

The future for Samantha? She hopes that her artwork will continue to bring joy into the lives of others.

“When I see people enjoying my stuff like that, I feel fulfilled like I’ve done my job.”