For Dr Tony Radcliffe, volunteering is an art


For a doctor, meeting a patient for the first time can be like the moment an artist first looks at a blank canvas. Dr Tony Radcliffe knows both experiences firsthand. “Medicine is all about solving problems with skills and scientific knowledge,” he said. “Art is solving problems through design, color and composition.”

After nearly 40 years as a physician, Radcliffe retired in 2006 and rediscovered a passion for art. The courses offered by the Artists Council has inspired his own works of art and led him to his current volunteer role as the exhibition director of the organization, which has just opened its new home at the Galen Artists Center in Palm Desert.

“Being able to show your art in a museum-quality setting is a great achievement for any artist,” he said. “For those of us who are trying to improve our skills and improve ourselves, this is a wonderful place to exhibit our art. We are trying to make our exhibitions something that would attract artists not only from the Valley of Coachella but from all over the country. “

His early interest in art evolved, he believes, as an undiagnosed “hyperactive” child in an era when hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder were not recognized as they are today. hui. He thanks his parents for being “diligent in finding things to focus on, like putting together puzzles, reading aloud, and drawing. That’s what made me want to see if I could be an artist.”

Her interest in volunteering also comes from her parents. “Both have always instilled in my brother and me that whatever you get, it’s up to you to make sure you give so much back,” he said. “There is a spirit in volunteering that is unique.

Artist Tony Radcliffe created "Clarification," now exposed in "Link" at the Galen Artist Center in Palm Desert.

His first volunteer experience was in medicine. “I was a general internist and they asked me to start a program for alcoholic and drug addicted patients which, in the 1970s, was not a specialized practice,” he said. “I helped create a unit where we had both outpatient and inpatient services. It was relatively new in this country. Then I started volunteering at the California Society of Addiction Medicine – then American Society of Addition Medicine – to help formulate this into a medical specialty. We started in the early 1980s, and it finally became a medical specialty in 2014. It was all volunteer work.

As Exhibitions Director for the Artists Council, Radcliffe says he is particularly excited about an exhibition of young artists for high school students scheduled for next spring. “We spoke to art teachers and found the theme,” he said. “I want to show students that art is an important field. That they end up in it right away, when they graduate from high school, is not as important as keeping in mind that sometimes they can. – like many of us – after that we had a job. “

Radcliffe believes that art and volunteering improve lives and communities. “Artists help improve communities by encouraging people to create and think, using the right side of their brain a bit more and doing things they don’t normally do,” he said. “And I think volunteering is a key aspect of the good qualities of human beings, whatever political spectrum they come from,” he said.

“What I really love – in medicine and art – is taking on a challenge and trying to find a way to make it happen somehow,” he said. “This is also what volunteers do.

Barbara Kerr is a freelance communications specialist with a passion for writing about people, the arts and special events. Inducted into the Dayton, Ohio Area Broadcasting Hall of Fame, she is the 2021 Past President of the PRSA College of Fellows.

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