Carmel Valley artist donates artwork for charity

Dennis Ellman. Courtesy photo

In an effort to address addiction and homelessness in San Diego County, local artist Dennis Ellman is donating his artwork for charity. With 100 percent of proceeds benefiting McAlister Institute and San Diego Rescue Mission, the community is invited to purchase his pieces during an art show and sale Dec. 3 at NTC at Liberty Station.

“I’m truly hopeful this one-evening event generates interest in supporting McAlister Institute and San Diego Rescue Mission,” and raises awareness of homelessness and addiction, Ellman said. “These are conversations that need to happen if we hope to impact the number of addicted and homeless in our community.”

The event will take place from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 3 at NTC at Liberty Station, Barracks 17, 2640 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego. All donations will be handled directly by McAlister Institute and San Diego Rescue Mission.

Ellman works closely with McAlister Institute and San Diego Rescue Mission, clients of Beck Ellman Heald, the public relations and strategic communications agency he co-founded in 1986.

Since opening its doors in 1977, McAlister Institute has grown into one of San Diego County’s largest alcohol and other drug treatment providers. Today the organization provides low-cost substance abuse treatment, drug intervention and recovery support services to nearly 7,000 men, women, teens and children throughout San Diego and Napa counties.

Ellman said he has seen the devastating consequences of substance abuse and wanted to help the organization positively affect the community.

“I do this because I believe deeply in its mission to end addiction through the miracle of recovery,” said Ellman, who also serves on the institute’s board of directors. “I’ve dealt with this issue firsthand, felt the fear and pain of having a loved one in the throes of addiction, lost people I truly loved and know the challenges people in recovery and their families face every day as they work their programs.”

The event will also benefit San Diego Rescue Mission. Founded in 1955, the faith-based nonprofit homeless shelter and recovery center has served thousands of men, women and children in San Diego.

“We have come to recognize and appreciate the dedicated and passionate work these nonprofits — and the many other nonprofits we’re humbled to work with — deliver to individuals working toward recovery, from homelessness, poverty, abuse and addiction,” Ellman said. “I truly believe in the work of these nonprofits and I’m honored to donate my artwork as a way to help them maintain and meet their missions.”

From doodling as a child, to writing poetry as an adult, Ellman has always been creative.

Born in Los Angeles, Ellman earned a bachelor’s degree in history from San Diego State University, where he discovered poetry. By his junior year, Ellman was published in national publications and received a fellowship to UC Irvine, where he completed a master’s in creative writing.

Ellman has lived in the San Diego area since 1980.

Before co-founding the agency with his wife, Beverly, he worked in corporate communications for high-tech companies in Los Angeles and San Diego. He also spent 14 years teaching English and creative writing at UC Irvine, Loyola Marymount University, Pepperdine University, Santa Monica College and SDSU.

Ellman’s acrylic and oil paintings and pen and ink drawings have been on display in galleries in California, Hawaii, Indiana and New York. His work is abstract, expressionist and impressionist.

“It ranges,” said Ellman, who also plays guitar and writes songs. “I don’t worry about it. I just do it. Everything inspires me.”

The art show and sale will feature a selection of drawings and paintings by Ellman, some of which can be previewed online at or Those interested in a particular piece can email Ellman at

For more about McAlister Institute, visit

For more about San Diego Rescue Mission, visit