Dan Motill: A Man About Towns

The Three Bears Painting - Acrylics

Dan Motill began his career as a draftsman with a love for Americana landscapes. Though he always painted in his spare time, it took Dan 28 years to realize that he wanted to focus on art full time. Dan combined his skills in engineering, architecture and art to produce beautiful ink drawings and watercolor paintings of the buildings he saw every day.

The Finger Lakes region is Dan’s muse: he recreates the landscapes, villagescapes, and important institutions of the area. Each of his paintings is the result of rigorous current and historical research in an attempt to understand and depict the reason a particular community developed the way it did. Dan, in the tradition of the American primitive artist, creates a natural blending of the past and present, allowing them to coexist simultaneously on the same canvas.

Dan believes that, “the two dimensional depiction of a community has to successfully coexist with the humanity of the community.” To that end, he has become indelibly involved in his local community. Dan supports the arts by allowing young artists to work in his studio and sponsors a program called “Celebrating Local Talent,” which features local artwork on the walls of area banks and restaurants, and he supports local schools by donating money and materials and organizing field trips. He is actively involved in four Finger Lakes region historical societies and chaired the restoration campaign of a local church.

Ovid: The Three Bears, a painting done in earth-friendly acrylics, holds a special place in Dan’s heart. Recently, he designed and proposed a federal stamp of the buildings’ images. Although the stamp was rejected, it is still widely used in Ovid as a decorative piece. Dan is also part of a movement to save the Bears, which make up the oldest government complex in New York, from being torn down by Seneca County. The Friends of the Three Bears, as the movement is known, hope to help the county raise enough money to restore the buildings and then start using them again for education, tourism and commercial retailing.

Dan would be happy to talk to anyone interested in viewing his work or in saving The Three Bears. You can visit him in his studio at 6495 Route 89 in Ovid, reach him by phone at 607-869-9585 or e-mail him at dan@danmotill.com. For more information, visit www.danmotill.com.


by Melissa Sue Sorrells