Echo Inducts Dawn Bowman into Hall of Fame

Class of 2017

Photos courtesy of Dawn Bowman.

By Staff, November 2017 Issue. Meet the rest of the Class of 2017 here.

“You have to look at things from the inside out to capture the essence of something,” is the vision posted on the Dawn Bowman Design website, a pearl of wisdom that the artist has (maybe even unknowingly) has applied to so many areas of her life, not only design.

As a Phoenix native, Dawn Bowman has  always been drawn to the arts – from theater and painting to music and design – but it wasn’t until about 17 years ago that she began looking at the LGBTQ community from the inside out to capture its essence through volunteerism.

“It was here I felt I could make a difference and manage up-and-coming artists, musicians and people in need,” she said. “That is what felt like community to me.”

Throughout the years, Bowman has volunteered her time to such causes as Aunt Rita’s Foundation, American Red Cross, the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS and Central Arizona Shelter Services.

She might be best known, however, for her 17 years as a Phoenix Pride volunteer. From behind the scenes, she’s witnessed the Bistro Stage entertainment evolve from a 10-foot-by-10-foot platform stage into an 80-foot tented art and music venue over the past six years.

“I love supporting starting artists and musicians and giving them a platform to shine,” she said. “And the community art projects have been a great expression for the community … I try to think of creative art projects that have meaning, like the Door to Equality Competition and ‘Recycle Pride’ water bottle sculpture, to name a couple.”

As the winner of the National Endowment for Advancement in the Arts Promising Young Artist and recipient of Regent Art Scholarship from the University of Arizona, Bowman understands the importance of giving others the space and the resources to create.

“Art is expression, and art speaks loudly without words,” she said. “It is a voice. Especially for the youth to be heard and to participate in a free expressive way. To be out and create, or out and receive the message of arts expression – community art is truly the most expressive – [means] leaving your mark. It’s saying, yes, I’m here now!”

It was her commitment to community art that drew her to participate in the Juried Great Mural Competition in Tucson Arizona in 2011.

“I like being involved in these causes because I feel strongly that it is so important to give to the community,” she said. “Give of yourself, your time and your talents. The reward is seeing the joy and happiness – and sometimes gratitude – in people’s eyes.”

Since 2010, Bowman has been involved with the Desperado LGBT Film Festival, which takes place each February at Paradise Valley Community College.

While she initially became involved as an entertainer for the opening reception, Bowman was later asked to bring art and entertainment to the growing event and, over the years, this has involved coordinating music lineups, art booths, meet-and-greet receptions even assisting art gallery exhibitors with installation. In short, all the things she loves.

“I don’t have kids, but all of these projects are like my kids, and kids need nurturing, love and attention to become great adults and great human being,” she said. “To teach others what I know so they carry on in their lives with a little piece of that, that is my legacy!”


Web-Exclusive Q&A with Dawn Bowman

Echo: You were born and raised in the Valley, but at what point did you realize you had a home within the LGBTQ community?

Bowman: Being involved so much in theater and art most of my early life opened the door into the LGBTQ community where I found a kindred spirit from the beginning with the various clubs like Ain’t Nobody’s Business being involved with Melinda Brown owner and all the various events held there. Linda Hoffman and Nancy Nunez were involved in many events – Phoenix Pride Festival, Aids Walk, Aunt Rita’s Foundation – and they recommended me to be involved …

EchoWhat year did you launch Dawn Bowman Design and what has your biggest success been as a self-employed artist?

Bowman: I launched Dawn Bowman Design in 2000. Working as a full-time decorative artist and designer. My biggest success has been being employed by Legendary Homes, working as a subcontractor traveling to cities like Carmel, Calif., and working on month-long projects to their completion.

EchoHow long have you been volunteering with Desperado? In what various capacities? Why is that important to you?

Bowman: I started at Desperado as an entertainer for the opening reception in 2010 then they asked me to bring art and entertainment to the growing film festival I coordinated music lineups, art booths, meet and greet receptions before the film’s and assisted with art gallery exhibitors installation.

EchoThere’s been a lot of conversation around art as advocacy and freedom of speech through art (especially since the new year), what’s your take on that? Why, in your estimation, is art so important to communities such as the LGBTQ community?

Bowman: Art is expression. And art speaks loudly without words. It is a voice. Especially for the youth to be heard and to participate in a free expressive way to be out and create or out and receive the message of arts expression! Community art is truly the most expressive…it’s leaving you mark…its saying…yes, I’m here now!

Echo: What advice do you have for anyone looking to dedicate more time to a cause they feel passionately about?

Bowman: Talk to your friends, teachers and coworkers, make a plan and stick with it and show up! Try different things for the right fit for you. Start today, not tomorrow. And make a commitment and put it on your calendar. The appreciation will follow and you will know where your passions lie!

Echo: What has your involvement with these causes added to your life? Why do you do what you do?

Bowman: I feel like I like being involved in these causes because I feel strongly that it is so important to give to the community, [to] give of yourself – your time and your talents. The reward is seeing the joy and happiness and sometimes gratitude. To see that in people’s eyes is the most important and to teach others what I know so they carry on in their lives with a little piece of that! That is my legacy!

I don’t have kids but all of these projects are like my kids, and kids need nurturing love and attention to become great adults and great human beings!

EchoDo you have any family you’d like to introduce our readers to?

Bowman: I identify as lesbian. My Partner is Nancy Doebler and we have been together six years on Oct. 1 2017. I have two 13-years-old cats, Cinder and Spice. My brother Mark Bowman is owner of Total Sound Productions and has been the sound company for Phoenix Pride Festival for several years. My Mom is Barbara Bowman, also know as “Barb and the Samwiches” as she donates her time to Phoenix Pride, Desperado and other projects and events! And always brings us lunch, lol!

EchoIn your experience, how does taking an active and involved role in your community enrich your experience as a member of it?

Bowman: Working as a team for a better experience always key, trying new things and trust! When you are trusted you sail, and I feel trusted with all my events and projects.

Echo: What would you consider your greatest feat?

Bowman: Being a good friend, a supportive family member and good partner to Nancy!

Echo: What would you like to tell anyone who is interested in becoming more involved in the community through volunteering, but isn’t sure where to start?

Bowman: Well, open Echo Magazine, of course! Attend the festivals, Phoenix Pride Festival, Rainbows Festival – get out and be seen and talk with people! 

Echo: What would you consider your greatest feat?

Bowman: Being a good partner, friend and family member!

Echo: Who are some of your role models/inspirations and why?

Bowman: Annie Lennox for her incredible voice, talent and activism. Hillary Clinton for putting up a good fight!

Echo: Do you consider yourself a role model? Why/why not?

Bowman: It’s funny, I guess. Whenever I enter a room people say, “hello, Dawn Bowman,” or “that’s Dawn Bowman.” I’ve been around for a long time so I have had a chance to touch a lot of people’s lives in some way!

Echo: Favorite piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Bowman: Keep moving forward, tomorrow is a new day! Don’t forget to “change the channel” if you need to!

Echo: What advice do you have for anyone looking to dedicate more time to a cause they feel passionately about?

Bowman: Don’t be afraid, follow your passions and do what you love!  Then you will be happy!

Echo: If you could summarize your efforts and experiences in 2017, what would you say?

Bowman: I have worked very hard at investing more time with Dawn Bowman Design and have been happy with the success with that … and all the new things on the horizon! I am totally pleased with my involvement with Phoenix Pride Festival, Desperado, etc. and am looking forward to the new year!

Echo: Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Bowman: Happy, healthy, busy with my projects, a new home and love in my life!


Congratulations to the Class of 2017! Meet the rest of the inductees here.