Accomplished artist pays it forward as co-founder of the Del Mar Art Center


By Kristina Houck

With the help of Alix Gonzalez Dumka, local artists have had a place to showcase their work in Del Mar for more than a decade.

Dumka, along with Maria Gardiner and Betty Sandbrook, co-founded the Del Mar Art Center, which opened in 2000 at the Del Mar Plaza.

“There’s a lot of artists in Del Mar and they wanted to do something in their town,” said 70-year-old Dumka. “It was a wonderful group of artists.”

To ensure a place where art can flourish, Dumka and the other co-founders decided members of the center must be juried in, commit to work in the gallery and present high-quality art.

“In the beginning, when she was involved quite heavily, she was very good at recruiting a lot of the original artists,” said Rosemary Valente, a current board member, friend and former neighbor of Dumka. “She was looking for high-caliber artists.”

A Del Mar resident for more than 40 years, Dumka said she also wanted to create a place to cultivate creativity in children.

“Children are unbelievable,” Dumka said. “They have imagination and create beautiful work. We have to train it.”

Dumka knew she wanted to be an artist since she was a child. At 15 years old, Dumka began her formal training at the Escuela de Pintura y Musica in her hometown of Pamplona, Colombia.

After marrying her husband, architect William Dumka, the couple moved to New York where their son was born. The family relocated to California in 1970, where Dumka furthered her art education at UC San Diego before studying at Atelier 17 in Paris with Stanley William Hayter, a master printmaker who worked with artists such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Marc Chagall.

“It was a wonderful experience,” said Dumka, who attended the Lorenzo di Medici Art Institute in Florence following her study with Hayter. “He was unbelievable.”

Dumka describes her work as “abstract expressionism.” She produces bold images in a variety of media, with her favorite being serigraphs. Unlike most artists who create serigraphs, Dumka uses the screens for their effect, not in order to produce multiple images. Therefore, all of her pieces are one-of-a-kind.

“I’m very proud of my work,” Dumka said. “It’s something that I created. It’s something that I invented.”

Dumka’s work resides in collections in North America, South America and Europe. She also frequently donates pieces to charities.

“It’s important for people to see my work, know me and have it in their collection,” Dumka said. “I have a lot of work, so I sometimes give away my work to do something good. I know it’s in good hands.”

From jewelry to sculptures, Dumka continues to create art in her home, which serves as her studio.

As she and the other co-founders intended, the Del Mar Art Center today provides a venue for professional and young artists. Now a nonprofit, the organization awards scholarships to local art students.

Dumka’s passion for art has also passed down to her 9-year-old grandson who, at the age of 5, won a prize for his painting at the Del Mar Fair.

“I’m really proud of her and lucky to have her as an artist friend,” Valente said. “She certainly is not only a capable artist, but a fun friend.”

For more information on the Del Mar Art Center, visit

; 1555 Camino Del Mar, Suite 112 (street level), Del Mar, 92014; 858-481-1678.