Published on January 21, 2020

Carl Dalio: Seeing the San Bernard in living color through the artist’s eyes

By Janice Edwards / The Bulletin

TThe San Bernard River – a small river – only 120 miles long but touches the lives of talented people by its song and mystery and influences their art forms.

With a little research, you can quickly find that artists of our time have lived, fished, and re-energized themselves at the San Bernard. People like songster Willie Nelson, writers such as Leon Hale and actors, including James Drury and Tommy Worrell, have all had their art forms influenced by the San Bernard’s song.

If you look deep in the waters of this river, you will find an artist’s muse. Such is the case for the famous watercolor artist Carl Dalio.

Carl Dalio was born in Houston and graduated from the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. He moved to Colorado in 1970 and has become known for his work in art and architecture as a free-lance architectural illustrator and fine artist.

He has served as a juror of art exhibitions and has given watercolor demonstrations and workshops in both the U.S. and Canada. His paintings are in numerous art collections, have earned numerous awards and have been shown in several national juried exhibitions like the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society and the Watercolor Art Society-Houston. He was elected to full membership in the American Watercolor Society in New York in 1989 and is a member of other watercolor organizations. He is, without a doubt, a very talented artist who is connected to our river and its communities in several ways.

Carl Dalio is the brother of Alma Marches. She currently lives on its banks in Fisherman’s Point subdivision. Through Alma, Carl’s proud sister, some friends of the river have discovered Carl’s art, and his August 2007 article in American Artist, “Cruising the River of Living Color.” Dalio describes the river through his memories as a boy and explains how that memory of the San Bernard influences his art.

Dalio spent the summers of his youth on the San Bernard discovering river things and river life as only young men can while spending time at the fishing cabin of his grandmother, who Alma also remembers fondly. That grandmother influenced both of her grandchildren with her love of the river. She was a fisherman, a mother, a wife and a grandmother who lived in a house on stilts near the current Churchill.

When she and her aging husband agreed that for health reasons they had to leave the river for a home on the ground, nearer medical facilities, she cried all night - grieving for the river she did not want to leave. Sometime during the night, she passed away, and the river granted her last wish. She did not have to leave the place that was her life. She must have passed that inspired love on to her grandchildren.

In fact, the San Bernard seeps into the consciousness of creative minds, inspiring and recharging the spirit, begetting art. Mr. Dalio has experienced the river muse and part of what he wrote in his article will resonate with those of you who regularly visit or love the San Bernard:

“I loved life on the San Bernard. Everything happened at a slow but sure pace as I observed the determination of the people who carved out their living from the resources provided by the river. My spirit and memory banks were being fed by the visual food and knowledge of a coastal environment as I closely observed the clouds, trees, fish, and birds. And I always appreciated the energy of the water and my connection to it. When any one thing happened on the river, the rest of the environment was always changed in some way.”

Carl Dalio’s art has been forever influenced by a little-known river in southern Brazoria County. Water and color – two elements in abundance on the San Bernard – are the medium in which he expresses his art. As Dalio’s art is seen and appreciated around the world, there will always be a part of the San Bernard living in his paintbrush and his work connecting his art to his river.

“Just as with my past experiences on the river, I search for connections with any subject that captures my attention. I engage an open mind and fresh, innocent eyes. I look and listen for connections to every aspect: to myself, to various parts of the subject, to the surroundings, to an analogy, to an imaginative story. And I continue the search, even if I only detect fuzzy images or slight whispers on first pass. This personal connection-building is so essential. It will be the fuel that will power my engine of inspiration and passion.”

For more information and a look at Carl Dalio’s paintings, visit: http://www.carldalio.com/

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)