The artist with portraits of homeless people: “Shashus 2” and “Mario the Poet”

A recent gathering at Desert Art Woman Gallery in Cathedral City proved to be more than just the dynamic art on display. Thanks to a Creative Corps Inland SoCal Grant, local artist Emmanuel Doublin was able to turn the experience into an opportunity to help homeless individuals.

“I wanted to create an event where I could get all kinds of donations for the homeless,” Doublin says of the outing, which featured his art as well as other artists’. “We received important items like deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, socks, and I just donated all the money I received from my art for homelessness resources.”

Doublin would go on to purchase tents, hats, and umbrellas, key items to offset summertime heat.

“I’ll be back out in the community in the next week,” he adds, “tracking down some of the homeless and giving them these items, along with water bottles, socks, and shoes. The grant allowed me to create the event and give back.”

Doublin, who now lives in Thousand Palms, has always been interested in art. He grew up in the low-income areas of the Western Coachella Valley, where crime, addictions and mental illness were prominent in various social circles.

“Art was a talent for me,” he shares, “and it kind of got dumbed down early in life because of my living situation. We were poor, had to work, and work came before anything else, so when I went to school, I chose to take the ‘career’ path. I didn’t realize art was a career path.”

Instead, he became a technician first, only to realize that many individuals choose art as a career. When he started watering some his creative seeds, he initially became fond of human figure drawing and went on to pursue a Studio Art degree at College of the Desert.  A Life Drawing class at Palm Springs Art Museum expanded his focus to oil painting, graffiti art, and other works involving various media components.

Now, he’s realizing that, through his creativity, he can give back to the community in ways he never imagined.

Man on Bench, Palm Springs by Emmanuel Doublin

“I haven’t been putting it out there much about helping the homeless as far as social media because I usually would give homeless people money,” he says. “But now I’m giving them prepaid food cards for like $20 at a local restaurant, and making little packs for them, and bringing them water. I always make a Thanksgiving meal for them, too.”

There’s a rare kind of richness in Doublin’s philanthropic efforts, which makes his recent grant all the more synchronistic. The Creative Corps Grant was made possible through Inland Empire Community Foundation , which has long served the region, distributing grants to numerous nonprofit organizations and individuals.

“I like to share parts of my community,” Doublin says of his work. Growing up, I saw homelessness. We definitely have a problem with homelessness and people lacking resources. Maybe some people don’t see that, and it’s unfortunate, so I’m just sharing that this is out there; that this is what’s being swept under the rug. Some of us wish to engage in political art, and I just love to express what’s out there in the community.”

And it’s not always so sad or lonely, he’s quick to add. Doublin’s other works include a mural celebrating Martin Luther King Jr., and projects that touch on Black history.

Overall, he’s fueled by his love of the area.

“I’m a big fan of the Coachella Valley,” he says. “I was born and raised here, and it’s like no other place in the world. It’s small, so it feels like home all the time. Everybody’s friendly, and I love getting out there in the community, where I can put different skills—painting, sculpture—out there.

“I am also glad the community has become more receptive to art and to creators,” he adds. “They’ve been enjoying the art. Artists are important. We’re the storytellers of the time period.”

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