About the Artist
Eclectic Dawn on her motorcycle, 2005.Dawn is an award-winning artist, musician, teacher, TV host, writer, henna artist, traveler, nature lover, beach wanderer, tikiphile, camper, thrifter, and was described in a TV interview as “the quintessential free spirit”. With 40+ years of experience completing commissioned works and performing in public, Dawn’s professionalism and enthusiasm shine through in every project she undertakes.

Dawn with fez.

She creates in “The Kukui Lagoon,” which is her studio by day and vintage tiki lounge by night. She schedules canvas works, pet portraits, and custom murals in between painting unique monkeypod bowls, making shell jewelry and mermaid crowns, wood-burning driftwood ornaments and magnets, creating mini ocean diorama ornaments painting surfboard wall hangings, hand-dyeing silk mandala scarves, and whatever else she decides to create, which has included unusual diverse items over the years such as zombie diorama ornaments (as seen here: http://socialgeek.org/2016/01/zombie-balls-a-socialgeek-eclectic-exclusive/).

Featured camper in VCT!

Featured in VCT!

Dawn and JohnnyV (her husband) gutted and rebuilt a 1966 Yellowstone camper, and a portion of the blog on this site is dedicated to that project. A two-year labor of love turned out beautifully, and was even featured in Vintage Camper Trailers magazine, but due to serious health issues and multiple major surgeries for JohnnyV, the camper had to be sold before they hit the road. The new owners have let them know that the camper has gone on to win awards at vintage camper rallies, and that makes them happy.

Dawn’s Background
music5Born in Milwaukee, WI, Dawn grew up in the Fox Valley area of Wisconsin. She toured the Midwest and East Coast as a musician for decades, ran her own antiques store in central WI,  and wrote articles and gave presentations about antiques, music, and decorating. When living in Green Bay (on Packerland Drive, no less), she painted signs and billboards at Orde Advertising, and later did marketing and admin work for them, while still performing in bands and tattooing.

2000 and Beyond
Race boatDawn and her best friend opened an import store/gallery in St. Pete, FL. She applied henna in the store and at area events, teaching about henna’s 5000-year-old history and symbolism.

JohnnyV and Dawn at Mai Kai

Mai Kai, Ft. Lauderdale.

Dawn’s life changed dramatically when a knife was held to her neck during a robbery in the store on April 4th, 2003. She found coping skills through friends, music, and art, and channeled her PTSD hyper-awareness into her work.

In the early 2000’s, Dawn picked up an airbrush, likened airbrushing to the same finesse of tattooing, and she was a natural. Her first airbrushing job was prepping and airbrushing 40′ race boats in Largo, Florida. Soon, she was airbrushing art on motorcycles. Dawn has won multiple awards for her airbrush work, including a “Best of Show, Honda” at the well-known Biff Burger’s “Bike of the Year Show” in St. Pete, FL, out of 100+ entries. Two of her airbrushed custom bikes have appeared in major motorcycle magazines.

Lola is a Green Bay Packer Fan

Lola, Cheesehead, Packer Fan

Dawn and JohnnyV married in Key West in ’06, and moved to Virginia in ’07, along with Bella, their adopted MinPin. After losing Bella to cancer, the V’s adopted Lola from the rescue group, Ruff Creek Ranch.

Lee Sandstead and Dawn Ventimiglia

Interviewing Lee Sandstead

Dawn hosted her live weekly TV show, “Heart of the Arts”, featuring local creatives, in 2011. (Some episodes are on her YouTube channel.) Dawn was an honorary member of the Danville Art League for her educational presentations, a member artist of Dan River Art Works and The Milton Studio Art Gallery in Milton, NC, and her  art has been sold  in various venues, including the world-famous Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She currently sells her works through etsy (link will open in new window), The Painted Mermaid (external Facebook link) in Southport, NC, Facebook, and other shops.


She started teaching bellydance in 2011 (which led to her hand-dyeing silk dancing veils and creating a bellydance flash card deck), and she began teaching Middle Eastern Rhythm Exploration (doumbek drumming) in 2013. She also teaches piano, guitar, and uke.

She stays busy creating art, teaching, slinging henna, sewing, and writing, but still finds time for adventures with JohnnyV such as camping, flea markets, thrifting, or Fairy Stone hunting. Dawn is an avid ocean lover who enjoys exploring beaches and snorkeling. She is truly an ECLECTIC spirit!

doumbek teacher

Teaching doumbek.


Ukulele and hooping, at the same time! We call it “Ukenhoopin'”!


Using a plasma cutter to fabricate the seat pan for a motorcycle project.

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