Dan Masterson has spent most of his life actively connecting the worlds of Art and Education for himself and for his students. He graduated from Antioch High School in Antioch, California in 1966. It was here that he developed an affinity for sketching and drawing, producing a few pen & ink drawings in the process. He continued his postsecondary education at Fresno State (now CSUF) where he majored in Anthropology. It was through Anthropology courses that he gained an appreciation for Native American and exotic cultures that would influence some of his later art pieces. While Dan is mostly a self-taught artist, his strong interest in art prompted him to take college courses in painting and drawing that helped him to improve his drawing technique, composition, and style.
Dan is a retired educator who began his elementary teaching career with Clovis Unified School District in January, 1983. He taught at Sierra Vista Elementary for six years before transferring to Jefferson Elementary. It was at Jefferson Elementary that he spent several years as the Math, Science, & Computer Specialist where combining Art with Education became his forte. Every student in the school attended weekly sessions in the “Think Tank” where Dan used art, music, and a variety of manipulatives to reinforce concepts being taught in the classroom. Among other concepts, students learned about perspective, how to draw self-portraits, do finger weaving, create clay figures, plot distances in the solar system, collect and germinate seeds, churn butter, make books, weave baskets out of strips of magazine, and actively participate in the creation of a host of projects. To this day, students fondly remember that the “Think Tank” was a fun place to be.
Dan rounded out his teaching experience with tutoring, coaching sports, and mentoring student teachers. It was for this and the many talents exhibited by Dan in his approach to education that he was a Finalist for Fresno County Teacher of the Year in 1991.
Dan’s interest in Native American culture led him to take a seminar in Yosemite where he learned about methods and materials used in making baskets, baby carriers, nets, cording, and soap root brushes. He also spent time in Sequoia National Park learning how to make authentic coil baskets from two Native American docents who also shared the location of sites where Dan could find natural materials such as sedge, willow and soap root. These experiences deepened Dan’s interest in Native American basketry and led him to experiment with yarn, twine, jute, and rope as he perfected his basket-making techniques.
From 2008 to 2013, Dan and Tina co-chaired the Board of Directors of Art-By-Hand Gallery in Fresno, California. Dan curated the art gallery and was one of the more than sixty local artists who displayed and sold their work to support the work of HandsOn Central California. HandsOn Central California is the volunteer organization for Fresno County.
Dan is an active member of the Society of Washington Artists and the Battle Ground Art Alliance. Recently (February 2023), he was appointed the La Center representative to the Clark County Arts Commission. His interest in art continues to this day as he participates in art exhibitions. He won “Best of Show” in the 2019 Battle Ground Art Alliance Spring Show and “First Place” in the 2021 Society of Washington Artists Show and Sale. Additionally, he volunteers as resident Art instructor for the Yosemite Conservancy in Yosemite National Park where he teaches an art course for one week in summer.