I am Dena Stewart, a self-taught visionary artist who picked up a paintbrush for the first time shortly after I turned thirty. My colorful canvases express my life experiences, dreams and beliefs. One of my early works,“Christmas Tree in the City” was part of the 1982, ‘83, and ‘84 UNICEF Greeting Card Collection. In 1989 the card was reissued, with more than three million “Christmas Tree in the City” cards sold world-wide. That year I humbly served as an Honorary Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, and was awarded my first Miami Beach Proclamation declaring November 16, 1989 Dena Stewart Day.
Born, raised and educated in Manhattan, I graduated from Pace University with a degree in business education. Before becoming a professional artist, I taught High School in New York, was an editor for a large textbook publishing company, and personnel manager for a national department stores chain.
Along with my husband, artist Stewart Stewart, I relocated from NYC to Miami Beach, FL in 1987. As painters with studio/exhibition space on Lincoln Road and a salon at the Island Club (bar/nightspot), Stewart and I totally enjoyed the pioneering spirit and camaraderie of the early South Beach scene.
After Hurricane Andrew hit, destroying much of south Florida yet missing Miami Beach by a mere few degrees, with appreciation of our good luck and a desire to pass it forward, we changed the name of Deco Echo Artists’ Delegation, a non-profit organization we founded to raise awareness of the Arts and Culture on Miami Beach, to Center for Folk and Community Art; the new mission being to use the combination of writing & visual art as a tool of intervention, prevention and education to address community issues and improve the human condition.
Our nationally acclaimed Telling Stories Through Visuals curriculum was selected by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities as a model outreach program. Telling Stories Through Visuals is a Lesson Card in the SRA/McGraw-Hill reading and language arts program – Imagine it! a comprehensive literacy tool used in schools in more than 50 countries around the world.
I was honored by the Miami Beach Commission on the Status of Women as a “Woman Worth Knowing” with another City Proclamation declaring March 28, 2001 Dena Stewart Day.
For our civic involvement, together Stewart and I received over a dozen Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County Proclamations, as well as the Key to the City of Miami Beach.
In addition to facilitating art outreach programs to address social issues, Stewart and I co-host Alive on South Beach, an entertaining online video show for SyndicatedNews.Net, an international news-gathering site viewed by millions of people around the world.