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Dan Earl May

March 28, 1952 February 27, 2019
Dan Earl May
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Obituary for Dan Earl May

D.E. “Dan” May, native Oregonian and iconic artist, passed away February 27. He was born in Salem, Oregon, on March 28, 1952, to William and Lucille (Frey) May. Dan grew up in Salem, graduated from McNary High School, and remained living in Salem his entire life. In the mid-1970s, he studied with Larry Stobie at Oregon College of Education before beginning his career as an artist. In galleries like The Yellow Front and The Big Sleep, Dan curated and established himself in his beloved Salem, which he referred to as “Island Salem”.

Not only has Dan owned galleries in Salem, he has also showed his art at both solo and group exhibitions in his home state and many others including Washington, Florida, Utah, New York, Michigan and California. The Jamison Thomas gallery in Portland took on some of his works and Jane Beebe invited Dan to join PDX Contemporary, her Portland gallery, and his representation remains there to this day. The Portland Art Museum named Dan a finalist at the 2008 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards. He received a Juror's Award at an Oregon Biennial and a national Art Matters grant. Dan was a Hallie Ford Fellow in the Visual Arts in 2013.

In 2014, Sabine Poole photographed and interviewed “Salem's mysterious DE May” for Oregon Arts Watch. The article provides a glimpse into some of the quirky and fascinating details of Dan’s life, including the fact that he had not owned a car since 1977 and got his first phone, a land line, in 1999. She describes his studio flat in downtown Salem as dimly lit but remarkably neat and organized. Dan told Sabine that he loathed sunshine and thus enjoyed a nocturnal existence, working and socializing at night and sleeping the daylight away.

The “Regionaires Club” is how he referred to his downtown, upstairs work room. It was half studio, half secret social club, and yet completely inclusive. His other favorite places to socialize were the Half Time Lounge and Magoos, both in Salem. He had too many friends to name them all, but among the closest were Brian Null and Natalie Laswell of Salem and Dan Schmidt of New York. A very special thank you must be extended to Francis and Kelli Lombardi of Salem who took care of Dan during the nearly two year battle with his illness. They took him into their home and treated him as their own.

Still today, museums including the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Boise Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Albright-Knox Gallery, University of Alaska Museum of the North and Seattle Art Museum. Private individuals in the Pacific Northwest, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and Connecticut hold Dan’s art in their collections.

Dan was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his brother Robert “Bob” (Helene) May; his sister Glenna (Steve) Sherwood; his aunt Lil Wilcox of Alamo, California; cousins Bev Reimann, Cheri Nopp, and Jeannie Lucey all of Keizer, and Wendell Frey of Oakland, California; several nieces and nephews; and numerous dear close friends. He will be greatly missed by those that were lucky enough to be part of Dan’s incredible life.

A Rendezvous to celebrate Dan's life will be held on Sunday, April 28, 2019 at Salem's Historic Grand located at 187 High St. NE Salem, OR 97301 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Take the elevator to the Lodge Room on the 4th floor. The social hour will be from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM with appetizers and a no host bar. Direct Inquiries to: Islandsalem@protonmail.com

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Previous Events

Celebration of Life

Sunday

28

Apr

5:30 PM 4/28/2019 5:30:00 PM - 8:00 PM 4/28/2019 8:00:00 PM
Salem's Historic Grand

187 High St. NE
Salem, OR 97301

Take elevator to the Lodge Room on the 4th floor. The Social hour will be from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm with appetizers provided and a no-host bar. Direct inquiries to: Islandsalem@protonmail.com

Salem's Historic Grand
187 High St. NE Salem 97301 OR
United States
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