By Dale Kaplan
Edited and designed by Gisella Snailer

Donna Maree goes by many nicknames. “DM,” “Mary Poppins,” and “Art Mama” are a sampling of the endearing few. DM is a well known figure in Dumbo as the founder of Creatively Wild Art Studio located at 98 Water Street.  When it comes to teaching art and inspiring children from toddlers to teenagers, DM is a  force of nature. Her passion for encouraging creativity among the masses is nothing less than awe inspiring. 

A native of New Zealand, DM has lived and taught art in England, France and Italy. While in Italy, she was offered a position to start an after school art program for at risk kids in the South Bronx. She accepted the position, packed up her clothes. paint brushes, clay, beads, and sparkles, and headed to New York.  


After working for the non-profit organization LEAP for several years, her good friend and artist, Sono Osato, informed her about a small space that was available to rent in the Rabbit Hole, a contemporary art space on 30 Washington Street. “The space was so small, I could only fit 5 easels on a diagonal,”  says DM. However this tiny space served as a  percolator for DM’s big dreams.  Through many incarnations, Creatively Wild has grown into a  950sq. ft space on Water street where toddlers, kids, teens and adults come to express themselves artistically in mediums ranging from printmaking to stop gap animation. “It was a big risk to take on this current space,” says the artist. I had an investor who was willing to put in $100,000, however after I signed the lease, he fell ill and pulled out of the deal. It was an incredibly stressful time but we pulled through. When asked how she coped with such a challenging situation DM replied “ Cadbury bars, Milk Duds and an abundance of faith and love.” 

As many businesses in Dumbo and elsewhere face uncertainty as a result of Covid 19, DM’s biggest fear is not being able to hold onto the dream that has taken her eleven years to build.

“The rent on my space is not cheap,” says the Art Mama. A nickname she earned from the kids who remember her classes as their first drop off destination. “While we have tried to offer online classes, and we charge much less than in studio instruction.  We are obviously a business that cannot maintain itself remotely, but we are working hard and doing what we can to survive.” 


“Covid 19 is not our virgin voyage of dealing with disasters, says DM. In 2012 when hurricane Sandy hit,  it left the studio under 5 feet of water for 2 weeks until they were able to pump it all out. They had to rip up beautiful wood flooring as it morphed into a substance resembling paper machine,” reminisces the Art Mama.  She has had respiratory issues ever since. “But that was a more tangible enemy,” says DM. “You could somewhat predict a beginning and an end.” 


If Creatively Wild cannot sustain itself, it will be a great loss to all of Brooklyn.  In addition to the classes that DM offers to the community, she consistently gives back by participating in neighborhood events and activities from the Dumbo Drop to running and managing the children and family section for Dumbo Open Studios. Art Mama can also be spotted supervising holiday arts and crafts projects with kids at Chabad Dumbo celebrations.  Whatever event Creatively Wild participates in, they never hold back on supplies. They are a first class generous operation.


It is also important to note that,  as  a service to the greater Dumbo community, Creatively Wild offers scholarships to Farragut Housing teenagers in the area of portfolio preparation.  They have a track record of 100% as all of their scholarship participants have been accepted into their high schools of choice.

Show support and treat yourself!

If you want to help support Creatively Wild, treat yourself or a loved one to an on-line class. Visit their website at where they have set up a portal for donations.


Let’s all pull together as a neighborhood to help each other. We all want to return to a functioning Dumbo and once again enjoy the amazingly creative community we love.

Creatively WILD Art Studio

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    May 31, 2020 at 8:22 am

    Like!! Great article post.Really thank you! Really Cool.

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