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Maria Elena Cruz




Professional Info

Educate. Curate. Create.


Maria Elena Cruz is a professional artist, curator, art educator and community builder. She is the founder- director of Dial Art, 501c(3).  She has been designing curriculum and teaching art for the past 20+ years. Maria also exhibits her fine art and curates group art exhibitions in various galleries throughout Los Angeles and San Diego.

Work Experience


January 2004 
Jonathan Kent Gallery, 474 N. Roberson Blvd.., Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Group Show)

February 2004 
“Black Butterflies, the Art of Transformation”
The Museum of African American Art, 4005 Crenshaw Blvd., Baldwin-Hills Crenshaw Plaza, Los Angeles, CA

90008 (Two Women)

March 2004 
“A Salute to Women”
La Petite Gallery, 5524 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90019 (Group Show)

April 2004 
“Synesthesia Drive-in”
Sangria, 68 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254-3760 (Group Show)

May 2004 
“Metamorphose/Sanctuary”, A Visual Journey of Visceral Grace
The Unurban, 3301 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405 (Solo Show)

December 2004 
“Twisted Christmas”
The Unurban, 3301 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405 (Solo Show)

January 2005 
Talking Stick, 1630 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 (Solo Show)

February 2005 
“The Art Work of Maria Elena Cruz”
The Unurban, 3301 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405 (Solo Show)

December 2005 
“Twisted Christmas”
BGH Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404 (Group Show)
June 2006 
Oasis Coffee House, 3405 Orange Ave., Long Beach, CA 90807 (Solo Show)
Press: “Bold paintings fill local coffeehouse with color”— Signal Tribune 

February 2007
“Point of View”
Alex Haleigh Gallery, 2928 Marine Ave., Gardena, CA 90249 (Group Show)

September 2007 
“The Art of Daybreak”
4018 W. 59th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90043 (Group Show)

April 2008 
Long Beach Art Walk, East Village Arts District: Nino's Italian Restaurant

September 2008
Downtown Art Walk, Lamp Project Building (Solo Show)

November 2008 
“Made in the USA”
The Brewery Project, 676 S. Avenue 21, #400, Los Angeles, CA 90031 (Group Show)

January 2009 
“Birth of a New Freedom”
Lucy Florence Gallery, 3351 W. 43rd Street (Leimert Park), Los Angeles, CA 90008 (Group Show)

May 2009
“Top of the Town Arts Festival”
Houghton Park Community Center, 6301 North Myrtle Ave., Long Beach, CA 90805 

June 2009 
“Diversity in Art”
Art Not Terminal Gallery, 2045 Westlake Ave., Seattle, WA 98121 (Group Show)

August 2009 
“Jazz in the Sun, A Melodic Exploration of Jazz in Paintings”
Portfolios Coffeehouse, 2300 E. 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90814 (Solo Show)

September 2009 
Unurban Café, 3301 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica 90405 (Solo Show)

September 2009 
The Talking Sticks, 1411 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, CA 90219 (Solo Show)
September 2009
“New Birth”
The Sanctuary, 5372 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90019 (Solo Show)

September 2009 
Archer's Pilates Studio, 6504 Arizona Ave., Westchester, CA 90045 (Solo Show)

November 2009 – May 2010 
African American Museum 
"23rd Carroll Harris Simms Black Art Competition & Exhibition", 3536 Grand Ave., Dallas, TX 75210 (Group Show)

April 2010 
Kaos Studio Jazz Series Paintings featured (Group Show)


January 2013

"The Pulse of a Nation", Fernando Pullum Community Art Center, 3351 W. 43rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90008  (Group Show)


June 2013

"El Sol for The Soul", Lady Between the Lines LA and Fernando Pullum Community Art Center, Los Angeles, CA


October 2013

"Daddy's Girl", Father Daughter Dinner and Art Show @ Fernando Pullum Community Art Center, 3351 W. 43rd Street, Los Angeles,  CA 90008 (Group)


March 2014

"Sacred", Empowering Women Through Art, @ Fernando Pullum Community Art Center, 3351 W. 43rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90008 (Group)


2011 - Ongoing

The Leimert Park Art Walk @ Kaos Network

Every Last Sunday of the month (Group)


September 2014 - Ongoing

Curtis V. Studios, (Located in Fredrick Micheal Salon) 1233 Camino Del Rio South, San Diego, CA 92108


April 2015

Artist Collective @ Sleep Bedder (North Park), 2855 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104

Sleep Bedder Mid City Location: 5058 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92115 (Group)


June 2015

"The Square Show", Expressive Arts,  3201 Thorn Street (Corner of 32nd & Thorn), San Diego, CA 92104



June 2015 - September 2015

Cafe on Park, 3831 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92103 (Group)

October 2021

Expressive Arts, Sacred Garden, Art as Healer  (Group)

October 2021

Studio Door, 3867 Fourth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103 (Group)


2010 - present

2010 - present

Dial Art


​March 2010 - Present


  • Develop art programs that encourage wellness and recovery through private groups and various organizations.

  • Design and facilitate interactive art programs for community outreach.

  • Curate exhibitions that encourages diversity and enrich the lives of community members

  • Develop unique and empowering art youth camps that include other discplines such as meditation, yoga, etc.


California African American Museum

2011 - Present


  • On call to create and impliment interactive art workshops that reflect the theme of the curent exhibit or events

  • Guest artist educator for young docent trainings. 



Leimert Park Art Walk                                                             

February 2010- Present 

Project Coordinator


  • Work with local community partners to develop the Leimert Park Art Walk.

  • Designed and created collateral materials including Art Walk logo and flyers.  

  • Assist in the organization with community partners; including legal documents, publicity, and networking for new artist contacts.



LA Commons                                                                      

April 2010 - (Annual Event) Present
Lead Artist 


  • LA Commons: Leimert Park Metro Banner Project - Collaborated with a team of youth artist from selected high schools. Collected stories from community members, interviewed local businesses, and studied Leimert Park history to develop art work that tells the story of the community. Banners will be displayed on the light poles along Crenshaw Blvd. when the new Metro line opens in the summer of 2011.

  • Help facilitate mask making workshops for annual Mask Festival in Leimert Park.




The Art of  Day Break Program                                       

January 2005 - 2016 

  • Provide a safe and creative environment for mentally ill, domestic violence victims and homeless adults through creative expression.  




Art Instructor

September 2011 - June 2014, ONLINE COURSES (2020 - Present)


  • Recreational instructor for watercolor, mixed media art, and figure drawing.

  • Designed interactive art workshops for Bruin Fest, Alumni Days and other special events throughout the year.

  • Art Instructor for SOAR Adaptive Program:  A program designed specifically for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities to include but not limited to: Autism Spectrum, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Spinal Cord Injury, Muscular Dystrophy. etc. The program is designed for teens and young adults. 

  • Art instructor for Summer Discovery: A program that prepares highschool students, that travel in from all over the world, for college life. 

  • Summer youth art camp instructor: Full day art camps for youth.




Optimist High School                                                                      
Art Teacher                                                                           

March 1999 - October 2005

August 2009 - June 2012


  • Teaching art to high risk youth (Ages 13 – 21).

  • Creating lesson plans according to State Standards. Providing a safe place for youth to explore creative expression in various art forms.

  • Fostering positive relationships through art with adult role models and peers.

  • Utilizing art as a form of therapy to teach the students how to embrace life challenges and improve self-esteem and attitude. 



Westchester YMCA                                                       

October 2007 – September 2009


  • Parent & Child Gym Class (Ages: walking to 5 yrs) provided a structured atmosphere for parent and child play by the use of songs, finger play, parachute, and musical instruments. Prepared the child for school environment and following basic instructions.

  • Summer Art Camp (Ages 6 – 15) teaching the fundamental elements of art by exploring line, shape, space, color, texture, and form. Organized and developed enriched workshops with a focus on exploring a variety of art techniques and materials. Lead field trips to the Getty’s Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


Community Arts Resource (CARS)                     

 January 2003 – October 2005 


  • Lead artist in the production of art workshops at the Getty’s Museum/Family Festivals. 


Youth Intervention Program (YIP)                                     

February 1993 – March 1999

Program Coordinator 


  • Mentored youth (Ages 6 – 16) through community service opportunities, field trips, and adult mentor relationships.

  • Trained to evaluate and help youth deal with and report physical and mental abuse.

  • Built character and self-esteem in youth through affirmations and exploring their creativity.

  • Established and developed an art department to showcase the creations of students. 


Community Service 


  • Art donated to numerous charities throughout Los Angeles for fundraising purposes: Diversity in Art, Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services, and LA Ministries

  • Provide Free and/or low cost art programming for underserved youth.




Other Experience:


  • Curated numerous shows throughout Los Angeles.

  • Face Painting

  • Organize Art Parties for kids 

  • Private art lessons for individuals and families

  •  Murals

  • Commissioned paintings for various individuals and businesses.

  • Collaborate with other organizations to create interactive art programs for their clients, such as, Community Coalition, Community Corps of Santa Monica, The World Beat Center (San Diego), National Crossroads (SD) and many more. 

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