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May 2023--Artist Highlight on Daphne Cates

Dawn Price | Published on 5/1/2023

Meeting up with new SaddleBrooke resident Daphne Cates, from Idaho Falls, I asked what drew her here.  Newly married, she had been living up north with her husband of three years, and her horse.  They recently did a road trip to visit family in Tucson, and Cates was NOT enamored with the heat or the endless miles of flat desert-scape.  That all changed when she took in the view from her aunt’s SaddleBrooke backyard.  She felt relaxed, healed and at peace.  The mountains, saguaros and ocotillos energized her, and just like that, Cates and her husband decided to buy a new home in the Preserve.  She quickly signed up as a member of the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild.

Asked if she was always creative, she said “I served in the U.S. Army as a line cook and had dreamed of attending a Culinary Arts Program.  After my daughter was born, I put that dream on hold for a bit, so that I could be the best mom possible.”  At one point, when helping with her daughter’s math homework became a struggle, she found some tutoring classes for herself, at Idaho State University’s College of Technology.  To her surprise, she was actually enjoying math, and ended up taking several math courses at ISU.  The Culinary Arts program had since been disbanded, but she decided to study Architectural Drafting and Design instead, and after graduating, was employed at Idaho National Lab, as a space planner and designer for many years.  Upon retirement, she was determined to use her knowledge of following the energy of her own home to optimize its function, room by room.  She researched all aspects of DIY, reading up and watching YouTube videos, and taught herself several trades.  She became adept at re-modeling, DIY, and tearing down walls as needed.  She re-worked the flow of the home and did her own tile work, flooring, and butcher block counters.  She spec’d out and ordered her own kitchen cabinets, and had them installed.  Her husband had complimentary skills and took care of all of the plumbing.  Together, the couple completed their first home re-modeling project!

Now that they are in SaddleBrooke, Cates has been surprising her husband with her creative talents.  She said, “We’d been busy dating, then we got married, and remodeled a home together…he had no idea that I loved art so much!”  It’s only since their move to SaddleBrooke that Cates started “ART-ing” as she calls it.  Between learning to play golf, and pickleball, Daphne has also taken oil painting and watercolor classes through the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild.  Her current love is weaving, which was fostered through meet-ups at the Fiber Arts Club.  She was an Award of Merit winner in the Guild’s “One Image No Limits” contest for 2023.  Her completed tapestry used intense colors, fabulous textures, and contained a representation of the Tohono Chul pony, with her foal, grazing in the fields at sunset.  

Asked what frustrates her, she replied “When I have to follow a rule!”  So, she creates and experiments in her own way.  On the positive side, “Creativity gives me energy.  It’s not whether something turns out as I expected it to, but how creating a piece makes me feel when I’m doing it.”  Daphne also has a passion for ceramics, and has created works in stained glass, clay pottery, and wood carving as well.  She says “the best part is that art is a form of expression, of feeling involved, and keeping your hands busy.”

If you’d like to get involved in learning to create your own art, consider becoming a member of the SBFAG.  You can visit their website and check out their events calendar at:, to see upcoming classes.  Established artists may welcome Open Studio time, to meet new people, and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow artists.  Art Salon meets regularly for lively discussions on a given art subject each month, hosted by different guild members.