"I've been in all of Hudson County since I started in the 1970s," said Condis. "I started in Union City, from there to West New York, passed through North Bergen, and now I'm here."
A well known artist of high prestige and merit, Condis has exhibited all over the United States, Cuba, England, Canada, Spain, France, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Czechoslovakia, and Venezuela.
"I've dedicated all my life [to art] since I was in Cuba to my arrival here," said Condis.
Born and raised in Cienfuegos, Cuba, Condis began her study of the arts at St. Tomas School in Cienfuegos, where she graduated with a degree in fine arts. While in Cuba she continued her studies at San Alejandro Academy in Havana, Tarasco School in Matanzas, and the American Academy also in Havana. Condis also had the opportunity to study at the Interamerican School in Venezuela.
After arriving in the States, Condis went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts from Montclair State College in New Jersey, and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Jersey City State College [now New Jersey City University]. Throughout her career she received a great number of awards including first-place wins in the "Hudson Arts Festival" in 1970, and the "Bicentennial Arts Festival" in 1976.
When she had first arrived to the Hudson County area, Condis began selling her portraits throughout the community. It was from her early ventures that she realized the fast-paced world of the urban community had left residents with little time and space to pursue creative outlets.
"The lack of time in this area that has so many hardworking people takes away from [creative expression], and I saw the need to put a school here," said Condis.
First school in UC
Condis first established her art school in Union City around 1975, where she held basic workshops in drawing and painting to an integrated class of students over the age of 10. She received such a positive reaction to her teaching methods that eventually, she had to add a second class for children ages 5 to 9 at the request of parents who were taking her classes.
With her continuing surplus of students, Condis had to relocate around the 1980s in order to accommodate her growing classes.
"That started in West New York about five years ago, and I didn't think it was going to work because I didn't have the environment for children," said Condis. "However, it has been a success, and the children even feel like big people themselves when they come here."
It was due to this that positive reaction that Condis decided to further integrate her classes regardless of age or skill level. She promises each student individual attention and instruction during the class time, so everyone is allowed to work at their own pace and there is no pressure to keep up with anyone else.
"It's more difficult, but the teaching is individual, and each student gets their own explanation and their own model," said Condis.
After her stint in West New York, Condis had then moved her studio to North Bergen. Throughout her moves, Condis was always looking for an ideal spot off the main commercial block of Bergenline Avenue, where she felt she could get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday businesses.
Now with her recent move to North Bergen, Condis finally feels like she has found her prime location on the corner of 70th Street and Jackson Avenue, in between Kennedy Boulevard and Bergenline Avenue.
"It wasn't easy to find and it was by accident," said Condis. "My husband was passing by and saw the ['for sale'] sign. I came over and it was the one I wanted, the one I've always dreamed of."
Mayor stops by
The new school space was inaugurated over two weeks during an opening reception, which included such prominent guests as the David DellaDonna, Mayor of Guttenberg.
"I met [Condis] when she came to see me six months ago about turning this old Factory that hasn't been used in a while into an art school," said Mayor DelleDonna. "Some people told me that she ran a first-class operation, and that she would be a good addition to Guttenberg, and they were right."
Many of Condis' students, who at times come from as far as Hackensack, are also excited about the reopening of the school in Guttenberg.
"I think the new location is excellent. I have four of my kids taking classes form Dalia," said Esther Murphy, 36, of Fairview. "They just started with the school this year, but I took classes here in high school and my mother took classes here as well. So it's sort of a family tradition."
"I think it's great that she's bringing some culture to the neighborhood," said DelleDonna.
Condis also plans to utilize the new space as an art gallery, where she will host various artists' exhibits as well as her own. Launching off the exhibits for the art school was the debut of Condis' latest pieces, the "Historic Women Collection," which features surrealistic images of some of the most influential and recognized women around the world.
Condis' collection begins with a portrait Eve, one of the classic symbols of creation in modern religions. Done in oil and acrylic paints, Eve is depicted as struggling. She is bound by the corruptions of society, symbolized through images of a serpent, money, and the apple of temptation from the book of Genesis.
Other famous women from around the world in the collection include Mother Teresa, Frida Khalo, Harriet Tubman, Joan of Arc and Indira Ghandi.
"I love impressionism and surrealism, but I enjoy any portrait I have made," said Condis. "I picked historic women because behind history women have always been seen from the point of view of the homemaker. Everything out of the home was forbidden, including getting and education or working, and I wanted to [celebrate] the many women that have existed and still fight for equality."
Condis' collection will be on display through the end of November, and each exhibit following in the gallery will run for two months. There are also current discussions to bring the "Historic Women Collection" to a gallery in Miami next year.
So you want to be an artist
The art classes run from September through June, Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. Each class meets once a week, and accommodates approximately 20 students per class.
"I have more than 100 students, and I also work around their availability," said Condis.
Condis is very happy with her continued success and following. She relishes the progress of her students, and plans to continue encouraging the gift of self-expression to the residents of Hudson County.
"I studied all these years so that my students can learn seriously the techniques of drawing and painting," said Condis. "If they don't learn the first time, then I show them again."
For more information about the Dalia Condis Fine Art School, 6914 Jackson St., Guttenberg, call (201) 861-1716.