Back in 1984, Darren’s dreams of becoming a professional golfer were brought to a brutal halt after a near-fatal car accident. Doctors said he would never use his limbs again, and he would most likely have to get used to life as a quadriplegic “stuck in bed.”
After years of physical therapy combined with an incessant drive, he started drawing with the help of a splint. Soon, he began working with acrylics to create abstract portraits.
“Art’s always been a part of my life, whether drawing or painting,” he said. “After the accident, I had a lot going on, and art was there.”
Maui artist Darren Quinn’s impressive artwork and lust for life is an inspiration to us all.
His “heightened appreciation for life” churned his creative engines, and Darren was on his way. His first paintings were displayed in the early ’90s in California, and he went in on a buyout of existing location called “Avenue Gallery,” where he held six successful exhibitions.
After this venture became a business fiasco, Darren made his way to Maui in 1995, and his art has been featured islandwide for several years.
The Food Network’s charming Giada De Laurentiis and her husband, Tod, are longtime friends of Darren’s, as well as two of his biggest collectors.
Darren created his first Amore painting for them as a last-minute wedding gift in 2003. He likes to experiment with stenciling, text and bold colors in his artwork, and has completed an assortment of pieces using the love phrase.
“It’s fun to try new stuff and see what people get out of the art,” said Darren. “Something seems to work, apparently.”
He ended up on Giada’s hit show, Cooking at Home, and has a permanent place on the set. It was an exciting—and nerve-wracking—experience to be on TV, yet he was thankful for the opportunity to captivate new audiences.
Challenges of his mobility were surpassed by not only technological innovations, but by the heart and soul of his determination to treasure life. Darren is not only a spirited artist but also a rather fearless man.
This 45-year-old daredevil refuses to stop being “extreme.” He has skydived twice and loves outdoor activities, such as windsurfing, a sport that took him on the ride of his life.
Avid windsurfer Jacques Pauvert and Maui’s renowned board builder Richard Greene helped design an extraordinary windsurfing escapade in 2003.
Jacques—owner of North Shore’s popular venue of the same name—steered a custom-made catamaran courageously across the rough channel between Moloka‘i and Maui, a dangerous eight-mile stretch, with Darren strapped to the front. The two friends made it in about an hour-and-a-half without any problems.
“It was pretty amazing,” he said. “I’m thinking about maybe becoming a stuntman—heard they make a pretty good living.”
Last summer, a motivation hit Darren that got him painting again. “I was in good spirits and something inside me just started to click,” he said.
Darren’s latest series has a dark intensity, integrating raw materials like duct tape and random newsprint, which he uses to paint on sometimes to just “break up the perfect white canvas.”
“Duct tape sticks real well and covers up mistakes,” said Darren, smirking. “Not only is it low-budget framing, it’s a part of Maui—I just like it.”
Darren—or “Q-ball” as friends refer to him as—unveiled his latest art series during an exuberant party at WoW-Wee Maui’s Kava Bar & Grill on Saturday, July 11, in Kahului.
Darren spun around in his wheelchair, and smiled shyly, greeting numerous fans and friends—old and new. Yes, some of the work has dark undertones, yet he’s full of life and endless humor, making everyone feel comfortable in his presence.
But Darren is moving back to the Mainland soon. “It’s just time to go,” he said.
His personal assistant, Adam Appolito—who met Darren about 15 years when he answered an ad—is going with him.
“It’s never felt like a job,” said Adam. “Knowing Darren is something amazing.”
After separating for a few years, they met once again on Maui.
“His work stands on its own,” he said about Darren’s challenges. “It makes it that much sweeter for him to make an impact due to what he’s overcome.”
An artist and designer himself, Adam has found endless inspirational from Darren.
“You should see him paint,” he said. “It’s like he’s creating this amazing fine art, painting within this little box within his reach, and yet, he makes it look so simple.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without him,” he said.
Visit www.darrenquinn.com for more information about this courageous artist and to purchase a variety of his paintings and digital artwork.
Also, check out Seeger Powerplay Productions’ “Q’s Quest,” an excellent video documenting Darren’s remarkable windsurfing expedition.