Dara Tolbert Brooks
Creativity is a part of my make-up, interwoven into the threads that are my DNA, demonstrated my writing and art. Creative since elementary school, I was nurtured by my junior high school teacher Mrs. Malenoff who recruited me for her after school course for talented students. She assisted me as I created the life sized sketches of models used as stage back drop for our senior fashion show. Later she arranged that I meet the cartoonist for the Detroit Free Press and encouraged me to attend Cass Tech and enroll in the art department.
Little did she know, my dad, also a Cass Tech alum saw my future at the coveted high school. Under the tutelage of fine teachers such as Mr. Noyer (artist and writer in New Mexico) I developed my talent. Again attracting the attention of an art teacher in high school, Mr. Tannenbaum, I was recruited for an after school class of hand-picked students where I continued to develop.
From there I received a scholarship to The Society of Arts and Crafts. By the time I graduated from their Industrial Design program it was called Center for Creative Studies, College of Art and Design. Today it is known as College for Creative Studies.
A number of years freelancing yielded my pen & ink illustrations in TV Guide Magazine. While working freelance with Aristocratic Advertising, a company focused on the give-away market I designed art for match covers, key chains, coffee mugs, note pads, watch and clock faces and a Chinese restaurant menu cover.
My tenure with Contract Furnishings took me into the space planning design area. I worked on projects for Metropolitan Hospital; a number of projects with local architectural firm Smith, Hinchmann & Grylls, now The Smith Group; and the Renaissance Center Properties. My completed space design included the hospital cafeteria and common areas plus cubicle design layouts for several RenCen Tower 100 new tenants when cubicle design work stations were in their infancy.
I joined General Motors in one of their art departments. Later going back to school and moved into engineering where I stayed until my retirement. Since then I have been revisiting my creative side expanding my acrylic and watercolor work.
My first solo exhibit was held at Plymouth United Church of Christ in Detroit. My watercolor entitled “Party Time” was part of the Celebrating Life exhibit at the Van Elslander Cancer Center in Grosse Pointe Woods. Two exhibits at Minha’s Coffee Haus in Mount Clemens and a full sized wall mural completed in 2016. My work has been exhibited at the Starkweather Gallery in Romeo; the Anton Art Center in Mount Clemens; The Grosse Pointe Art Center; the Padziewski Gallery in Dearborn; the Downriver Council for the Arts in Wyandotte and the Detroit Yacht Club.
I taught watercolor at the Shelby Twp. Library for beginners and the Providence Park Hospital Assarian Cancer Center in Novi as part of their Healing Arts Program. My work has also appeared in the 2014 and 2015 Mount Clemens Art Association Calendars with proceeds going toward scholarships for Mount Clemens High School students seeking art as a career.
As the family historian I am often called upon to make presentations about our heritage. These presentations, along with my fourteen year publication of our family newsletter allowed me to incorporate my artistic and writing skills. When one of our elders turned ninety I painted a watercolor portrait of him and presented it to him at the event.
I am currently editor of the Detroit Power Squadron publication “The Dumping Grounds”, a recreational boating organization where I use my writing and photography skills.