Robert Charles Dunahay
Artist Biographical Information


1954 Cleveland, Ohio


1976 BFA, Metropolitan State College, Denver CO


2000 Ribbon Series, Bechtel Building, San Francisco, CA
1999 Jernigan Wicker Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA
1999 All Series, China Basin landing, San Francisco, CA
1999 Cliff's Variety, Windows, San Francisco, CA
1998 Ribbon Series, Micaela Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1998 C.I.T.Y. 2000 Gallery, Sierra Arts Foundation, Reno, NV
1998 The Palm Series, Micaela Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1998 Institute of Governmental Studies Library, UC Berkeley, CA
1995 West America Bank, Pentaluma, CA


2000 Jernigan Wicker Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA
1999 Be Still My Heart, Artsmart, The Design Center, San Francisco, CA
1998 Artspan Open Studio Show, SomArt Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1998 Annual Fine Art Exhibition, Redding Museum of Art and History, Redding, CA
1998 Santa Cruz Statewide Exhibition, Santa Cruz, CA
1998 Backflip, The Phoenix Hotel, San Francisco, CA
1998 Artspan, Selections at the Academy of Art College, San Francisco, CA
1998 The Collectors Gallery, Museum of Oakland, Oakland, CA
1997 Artspan at SOMA Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1997 Mad River Post, San Francisco, CA
1994 Delecea Fine Art, Art Miami, FL
1983 Zoma Gallery, NYC


1999 Visual Aid Big deal 99, San Francisco, CA
1999 Annual Artspan Auction, Hang Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1998 Visual Aid, Big Deal 98, San Francisco, CA
1998 City Meals on Wheels, New York, NY
1998 Cheap Thrills, The Lab Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1998Annual Artspan Auction SomArt Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1997 Visual Aid, Big Deal 97, San Francisco, CA
1997 The Lab Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1996 Visual Aid at SomArt Gallery, San Francisco, CA


Chairman for Big deal 99, Visual Aid's annual fundraising event.
Curator for Small Treasures exhibit at City College, San Francisco, CA


1998 Susan Perkins, Discoveries, "Inside Magazine", Nov/Dec, p. 24
Artifacts, "Arts and Culture in Tahoe", Truckee and Nevada, Winter, p.13
Art from Theory and the Heart, "Encore", November, Sierra Arts Foundation's magazine, vol. 23, no.11, p. 5
Original Approaches to Landscape, "Encore", Dec,
Sierra Arts Foundation magazine, vol. 23, no 12, p. 6


1993 Four 10" x 20" interior murals for private residence, NYC Designed and fabricated chandelier lights for the restaurant 105, NYC


Robert Dunahayıs Palm Series defies expectations by depicting palm trees with intense, high-key colors that seem to celebrate their own departure from reality. Dunahay uses color with a joyful lack of regard for naturalistic convention, in the vein of Fauve painters like Matisse. He does not work according to some preconceived notions of color theory, but rather arrives at his imaginative color schemes intuitively, choosing hues for their emotional impact. Each painting is a ticket into a distinct new world imbued with physiological (and therefore psychological) reverberations caused by the color contrast between tree and sky.

At first glance, many people assume these images are computer generated. They seem like photographs transformed with one click of a mouse into fantastical color schemes, but they are not what they seem. Dunahay paints each palm individually, without even the aid of photographs. He is intimately familiar enough with the structure of various species of palms that he can generate these trees from his own imagination. If you are familiar with the different species yourself, you can recognize aspects of them in Dunahayıs palms, but donıt be surprised when he takes a bit of artistic license occasionally. He has been known to blend characteristics from various species into new hybrids, playfully cross-pollinated in his mind between their native locations in Hawaii, San Francisco, and Miami.

Palm trees are synonymous in our culture with the exotic. To people who live in areas of the country where palms are not native, they symbolize warm, sunny vacations and romantic getaways ­ essentially, embodying our hopes for a temporary slice of paradise here on earth. By dressing his palms in a range of strong colors, Dunahay amplifies the emotional associations we already have connected with these trees. He is fascinated by the range of messages conveyed by different colors and explores various combinations to see how the mood of each new painting shifts as a result. "The palm image became an icon for me," he says, "a stable symbol around which I can experiment with color theory."

Although the repeated subject matter and almost electric colors bear some resemblance to Andy Warholıs well-known Pop images of subjects like Marilyn Monroe, Dunahay is not revisiting Warholian themes. His paintings are not mechanically reproduced serial images, but instead each is a unique "portrait" of a different palm. The Palm Series involves an ongoing exploration of his chosen theme. Endless variations are possible, even within the strict parameters Dunahay has set for himself.

Dunahayıs paintings have been known to stop traffic. He retells the story of a day on which one of his most shocking palm paintings ­ a red palm against a black sky ­ hung in the street window of a gallery in San Francisco. As a motorcade of black limousines passed by, the line of cars halted unexpectedly in front of the gallery. The window of one car was rolled down, and President Clinton himself stopped for a peek at Dunahayıs work. Even the busiest of us canıt help but be momentarily arrested by these glinting jewels.

Julie Nelson
Art Critic