You’ve Gotta Have Art: 37 Years of D&M Art Studio

It’s American Artist Appreciation Month, and what better way to celebrate than to feature Canton’s longtime artist and business owner, Sharon Lee Dillenbeck Rokita of D&M Art Studio.

D&M Studio celebrated its 37th year in business, serving the Plymouth and Canton communities and bringing art and culture to hundreds of people. We asked Sharon to share a bit about her life and history, and she painted a beautiful picture of many years of success.

What is your background in art?
"I am a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, PA. I studied under artists Vickie Brett, Electra Stamelos, Eddie Joppichs, Walter Kewlose and Chappy Valente. Additionally, I have taken many workshops and other art classes."

How did you become interested in art?
"I have always had a burning passion for as long as I can remember: from making my own paper doll cutouts with my grandmother under the big maple trees to painting the family driveway in chalk. I was always the kid who colored outside of the lines."

Why did you decide to open an art studio?
"When my oldest child was in preschool, I was not comfortable in the way they were introducing the art program, so I asked if I could work with the kids and it evolved. In 1983, I founded the first D&M Studio in Plymouth’s Old Village. I wanted to address my community’s need for an environment and class structure that would integrate creative techniques with my passion for art."

Where has the D&M Studio been located?
"The first studio was actually in my home until my husband asked me to please find another space. In 1983, D&M Art Studio was launched in Plymouth’s Old Village. We then moved to Canton on Lilley Road for 25 years and most recently into the Village Arts Factory since 2019."

What types of classes have been the most popular over the years?
"Overall, the most popular classes are the basics in drawing and various painting mediums. Currently, my adult watercolor floral class seems to be the big hit. My summer camps for children have been popular since 1990. I’m now teaching many grandkids of the kids I first started with."

What can people expect from a class at D&M?
"I basically go by this mantra: art is a wonderful self-esteem builder for both children and adults. It sets you up for success. There is no other area of your life where you have the problem, and you or your child already have the answers. While respecting the inner artist, we help you create those answers."

Any advice for people who would like to take up art?
"Just come on in and paint with us. We supply all materials, ideas, inspiration and passion. Come and play with us!"

What are your plans for the future?
"We are 37 years into creativity and have evolved into homeschooling, badge workshops, diversity classes, teacher development, portfolio programs, veteran classes, summer camps and so much more. I was once referred to as 'the Grandma Moses of Canton.' I’ll take that."