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Art League Enlists Plainview Resident

It has been more than a decade since Debbie Wells moved to Plainview to raise her family and pursue her passion for art. This week brought Wells her latest milestone when she was elected vice chair of the Art League of Long Island’s Board of Trustees.

“I love the Art League for so many reasons,” said Wells, a graduate of Parsons School of Design and established artist. “It’s close. It’s a great place and I want to do everything I can to make it even better.”

The Art League of Long Island has served as the area’s go-to visual arts organization for more than 50 years and has a reputation for delivering diverse programs, including art classes, exhibits, summer camps and more. With the addition of Wells as vice chair, the league said it would be shifting focus on attaining more sponsors and corporate development to make those programs even more dynamic and appealing to the greater community.

Wells said she first started taking classes at the Dix Hills art league nearly eight years ago for fun. But her involvement only grew from there.

“Being a suburban mom in Plainview, I thought it was the perfect place to hone up on my skills and just enjoy myself,” Wells said. “It was another place for me to be and grow.”

She said she started doing freelance work for the league, designing their invitations and pitching in for some events. Before she knew it, they were asking her to consider becoming part of the board. And after already serving as a member of the board for several years, she said she was more motivated than ever after being elected vice chair.

The art league also recently welcomed Charlee Miller as its newest executive director, which Wells said has helped make for a bright future at the non-profit cultural hub.

“We try to make this happen, which I really enjoy,” Wells said. “She and I are able to combine our art backgrounds and contribute in so many ways.”

One of the things Wells said she was working to deliver under her new leadership role included a new interactive and casual drawing event inspired by similar social events held on the west coast.

Starting Dec. 14, Wells said fellow Parsons graduate and celebrity artist Pierre Bernard Jr. will bring his popular brand of “sat/nite/draw:” drawing parties from his Los Angeles stomping ground to attract new artists to the Long Island league.

Wells said the nighttime drawing event would be geared for anyone over 21 years old and hopefully become more of a staple of nightlife on Long Island.

“I think the art league is a tremendous resources,” Wells said. “We need young new people, and I wanted to bring more of a professional-level interest. An event like this could bring all new kinds of people.”

But there is more to the art league than mature conversations about historic paintings and brilliant artistic minds, Wells said. For years now, the art league has been offering summer camps for children, Photoshop classes, and other technically driven programs to make it an institution that all can enjoy.

“We’re interested in everybody. We have programming for children as well as a new computer graphics department,” she said. “We really run the gamut and have a lot of professionals involved in the league.”

When she is not working with the league, Wells said she was also a founding co-partner of Artful Circle, which helps art lovers find the finest art galleries, studios and cultural sites and provides guided visits to such spots. There, Wells said she works alongside former Chief Curator at the Nassau County Museum of Art Franklin Hill Perrell traveling into artistic meccas like New York City to share her passion with others.

Before she helped build Artful Circle in January, Wells also worked in the art departments of American Express and other major corporations, and also served as a number of non-profit organizations over the past 30 years. Throughout that time, she collected countless awards from GraphicDesign:USA for excellence in package design, logo design and newsletter design.

“When it’s your passion, you spend all your time thinking about it and doing it,” Wells said.

Wells, a Brooklyn native, moved to Plainview with her husband Mark just after the turn of the century to raise their sons Andrew and Matthew and their dog, Rocky. She said her location has made for a great spot to have a family and access so many different kinds of artistic and cultural institutions across the island and New York City.

“It’s the perfect blend of everything,” Wells said. “We have a great life here.”