Doug Dunn, a Bisbee Creator with a Unique Collection

Updated: Jan 6, 2020

Recently, Discover Bisbee has been working to connect our visitors with our locals to fully capture the essence of Bisbee through the people that make it. To do this, we started the #bisbeecreators campaign where we interview our locals and share their stories.

When we started this, we had no idea the amazing stories we would gather, or the incredible people we would learn so much more about. We are excited to continue to share these stories with you all and hope you find them as fascinating as we do.

One of our favorite things that we have found through the #bisbeecreators series is that not every creator is the typical artist you would think of—creating paintings or drawings. Instead, these atypical creator's art comes in the form of offering community resources or telling stories through historical objects like our next creator, Doug Dunn.

Doug moved to Cochise County in 1970 and was able to experience Bisbee as it was before the mines closed. He was living in Wilcox when he says in 1978 he met, "this cool, hippie librarian and we began a twenty year courtship traveling back and forth between Bisbee and Wilcox 85 miles away where I was working."

Doug and Donna Gaab continued their life back and forth throughout the County until Doug retired in 1999 and moved to Bisbee full time. He and Donna moved out of Old Bisbee to a wonderful craftsman bungalow in Warren, leaping from the upper Gulch to the Vista Park.

"USA Today named Bisbee the best historic small town in America, and I agree. I am here to stay."

Doug and Donna have been a huge part of the Bisbee community for years. You can find them at almost every public gathering and offering their support at every community event. Doug also served on City Council for six years, and says he has loved being a part of the Bisbee community.

How he creates?

A collector for many years, Doug began selling antiques on the side once he moved to Bisbee. He became heavily involved with Acacia Art and Antiques on Main Street and has been selling there for many years.

So what exactly does Doug do to create in Bisbee? He says that his art is in, "rejuvenating historic objects, seeing what something can become with a little help." From this art, Doug has worked to publish his latest book, "Signs of Bisbee." His book is a carefully presented 40 year collection of Bisbee signs and their interesting history full of rich photographs and illustrations.

You can see some of the signs in real life in the windows of the old Phelps Dodge Mercantile, now the Convention Center, that houses the Bisbee Coffee Company among other shops and restaurants. The book is a great accompaniment to the display, providing interesting historic information and stories that speaks to what Bisbee once was. Doug says he continues to be a student of local history and promoter of the lovely community in which we live, and he wanted to offer a piece of that through his latest book.

An excerpt from Dunn's book, Signs of Bisbee

Doug says that his favorite thing about Bisbee is its historical architecture, its natural beauty, and its patina. Working in antiques, "patina" has become one of his favorite words because it is the beauty you see only on objects that are aging. That's also one of his favorite things about his friends in Bisbee who are aging gracefully with the town.

"We glow. We do yoga."

We continue to ask all of our creators what their advice to visitors of Bisbee would be. We like to know what locals think visitors should know most about the area. And we couldn't agree more with the message Doug believes is most important for our visitors because it encapsulates everything Bisbee offers you when you come to town:

"Be yourself. Seize the day."

To pick up a copy of Dunn's book in paperback or hardcover you can stop by Acacia Art and Antiques at 69 Main Street or Bisbee Books and Music—inside the Convention Center—at 2 Main Street or if you know Doug you can contact him directly for a signed copy.

Read Doug's full interview on our Bisbee Creators page here.

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