Rachel Druten and Hazel Fink Take On the World

By Angela Romeo

Art has a way of crossing over medium – it is not uncommon to find the poet in the sculptor or the painter in the musician or even the writer in the gallery owner. Rachel Druten’s cross overs are a win for all.

A gifted artist and writer, Rachel is an inspiration of what can be done.  Educated at UCLA, she studied at Otis Art Institute, receiving her B.A. from Occidental College. During the 1980s and ’90s she was the Owner/Director of the Four Oaks Gallery in San Marino California, exhibiting such diverse artists as California landscape artist Roger Kuntz, abstract expressionist ceramic sculptor Peter Voulkos and provocative political visual artist Arnold Meches. 

Rachel was not done making her mark in the art world. She would go on to join the Board of Directors of the Idyllwild School For Music and the Arts, now known as the Idyllwild Arts Academy. She was a member of the San Marino League, a nonprofit organization of women committed to philanthropic work in the community while furthering their own knowledge of fine arts.  She is member of the Pasadena Art Alliance, another nonprofit dedicated to exploring and funding visionary ideas and concepts in contemporary art.

In 1995, Rachel moved to Palm Desert and became an art docent with the La Quinta Arts Foundation. Rachel is active in the Palm Springs Artists Council and the Palm Springs Art Museum Western Arts Council. Still not  done making her mark in the Coachella Valley art scene, in  1998 Rachel founded Tools For Tomorrow This non-profit, 501 (c) 3 is an arts literacy enrichment program integrating art, music, drama, writing and performance that is provided free to children grades 3 through 5 in elementary schools throughout the Coachella Valley.

All the while Rachel continued to gather accolades for her own artwork. Widely recognized for her commissioned portraits, contemporary paintings, and mixed-media prints, etchings and works in clay, her work has exhibited in the Los Angeles Art Association, the Palm Springs Art Museum and in shows throughout Southern California. Her work is in collections throughout the United States.

Still not content to rest on her past accomplishments Rachel moved to the written word. In her late fifties she bought a computer, discovered spell check, as she has said, and wrote nine historical romance novels published by Barbour Publishing for the inspirational market.  Her work has been published for book clubs, translated into foreign languages, collected in anthologies and for the seeing impaired. She has been honored as a Woman of Distinction in the Arts by the National Pen Women in 2007. In 2015 was initiated into the Palm Desert Rotary Education Hall of Fame In Recognition of her Lifelong Dedication, Leadership and Commitment in Education. In 2019 she received the DAR Community Service Award.

“While continuing my art, some years ago I stopped writing, except for the Tools For Tomorrow Newsletter, and Letters to the Editor of the Desert Sun.   I continued my membership in Pen Women and the Palm Springs Writers Guild,” said Rachel. “And then, two years ago I was challenged to enter the monthly PSWG short story contest. I did and Hazel Flick was born.  After 10 months I had as many short stories. I decided to illustrate them, hence my first in the Hazel Flick and Fanny Series: PARADISE FOUND, published by Tilton Bass Publishing.”

Who is the caftan wearing spunky senior, Hazel Flick and her pesky pup, Fanny? ”Hazel is the embodiment of all that one can do if one believes,” said Rachel. “When one first encounters Hazel and her pup, Fanny, they are hightailing it down the I-10 to escape her deadbeat family. They run out of gas in Palm Springs and discover she has pulled the wrong purse. No credit cards, cell phone or license. Not about to grovel back, Hazel and Fanny find a way, which includes living out of her van being arrested for vagrancy, a drug bust and becoming an undercover operative for the DEA…….. And that’s just for starters!”

“Hazel and Fanny were so much fun that I wrote and illustrated a second in the series, I’M BACK. All Hazel’s adventures take place in familiar spots in the Coachella Valley, The Purple Room, the airport, the Coachella Valley Musical Festival, for instance.   I’M BACK has won the READER’S FAVORITE FIVE STARS award.”

“I have a mission. Being an active octogenarian plus six, my mission is to encourage, enable and inspire ‘women of a certain age,’ through my writing and speaking. To my surprise, although Hazel is considerably younger than I, she has become somewhat of an icon in the desert. Folks who have read my books are continually sharing experiences they think would make a good Hazel story. Indeed, Hazel proves that no matter your age, if you believe in yourself, have hutzpah, imagination tenacity, humor and above all, courage, you can create your own paradise. Hazel proves that no matter your age, if you believe in yourself, have git-up, grit, ingenuity and humor you can create your own paradise. I anticipate that Hazel will continue her adventures until they carry me out feet first!!”

Rachel will be at DESERT WRITERS EXPO: Meet the Authors, on February 15, 2020 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Rancho Mirage Library Community Room. This event is presented by the Palm Springs Writers Guild in collaboration with the Rancho Mirage Library. This yearly event features authors discussing the business of writing and other topics related to writing, publishing and marketing. The participating authors will sell and sign their books.

Rachel is prepared to give the straight skinny on Hazel Flick and her pesky pup, Fanny; spill the beans about the process of how, when and where they came to be, where Hazel and Fanny are now, and where they are heading and how Hazel became an icon for women of a certain age.            

And Rachel is donating 10% of profits from the series TOOLS FOR TOMORROW.

For more information of Rachel visit racheldruten.com. For more information of Tools for Tomorrow visit toolsfortomorrow.org. For more information on the DESERT WRITERS EXPO: Meet the Authors, on February 15, 2020, visit https://palmspringswritersguild.org.

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