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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Art for the Animals

“It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa.

In the creative life of Tucson artist Diana Madaras, giving is a way of life. She was born and grew up in Toms River, New Jersey. As a child, she assisted her father in his veterinarian hospital practice. Diana states, "I was encouraged to observe the process of my dad's practice. Over the years, I learned a lot about the animals he treated and was given small jobs around the clinic to keep things running smoothly." "One of my jobs was taking care of injured and orphaned wildlife dropped off at the hospital, which made a huge impression on me." Was she ever tempted to follow in her father’s footsteps? The answer is, “No, I would often find myself crying; I was too sensitive to the suffering, although I loved helping the animals.”

Diana graduated from Toms River High School South and went to Douglas College of Rutgers University for her Bachelor's in Science. She then applied for an assistantship at the University of Arizona, Tucson, which provided her with a full-ride scholarship and opportunity to move to the great American West. Diana recalls, "The opportunity was a paid academic appointment for graduate students that involved part-time teaching or research. In my case, I instructed undergrads in tennis, fencing, and badminton classes." Diana graduated with a Master's degree in Biomechanics. During her time in Tucson, she fell in love with the casual lifestyle, gorgeous sunsets, and the lush Sonoran desert surrounded by the high peaks of Mt. Lemmon and the Catalinas. Tucson was the place she could put down roots.

Diana began a successful sports marketing career, including promotions for major sporting events such as the LPGA and PGA golf tournaments. Her schedule constantly kept her on the go, leaving little time to pursue her passion for art. The turning point came when a professor of architecture and fellow painter Chuck Albanese noticed her artistic talent and convinced her to study abroad. He and his wife sponsored trips for students abroad. Diana considered the idea worthy of action. The year was 1993. Diana was on a painting holiday to Greece with the group, a choice that changed her life.

"One of my jobs was taking care of injured and orphaned wildlife dropped off at the hospital, which made a huge impression on me."

Her painting holiday resulted in the decision to sell the sports marketing business she had spent 12 years building, open a gallery, and devote her energies to painting as a career. Remembering her experiences caring for animals, Diana founded Art for Animals, a foundation to provide her with a direct way to help animal welfare groups in need. The foundation aids in the rehabilitation of wildlife, supports the prevention of cruelty to animals, and saves pets from euthanasia. Art for Animals donated more than $200,000 in the first fifteen years of the project to a variety of wildlife organizations, both local and international.

In 2008 Diana agreed to a charity project in exchange for a free photo safari, courtesy of Terry von Guilleaume, owner of Destination Southern Africa. Her mission was to create a series of paintings that would be auctioned off during the African Sojourn Art Show fundraiser. Diana donated 100% of the proceeds from her paintings to three charities in South Africa and two groups in Tucson. Diana also donated her talent when Hughes Federal Credit Union (HFUC) asked her to provide an image for their debit cards. In exchange, HFUC would donate $5.00 per card to a charity of her choice each time someone chose a debit card with her image. The result was a $12,000. check for the Tucson Wildlife Center.

Artist Diana Madaras shows no signs of slowing down. "My style has evolved over the years. I am an expressionistic colorist and enjoy painting bold and loose paintings. My subjects are beautiful flowers, domestic and wild animals, and canvases of serenity." She paints both in acrylic and watercolor and welcomes commissions.

Her gallery continues to experience robust sales and, in turn, helps the animals. Diana is a Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild, Arizona Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society, and the Southern Arizona Arts Council member. She now shows exclusively at her Gallery in Tucson. In Diana's world, she states, "Painting fills me with joy." The community of Tucson has recognized her nine times as “Best Visual Artist of the Year.” A trip to Madaras Gallery in Tucson, Arizona, will provide an excellent opportunity to bring color and joy into your home or business or delight someone with a gift. You will also be supporting numerous animal welfare groups.


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