Don Paulson Biography

Don Paulson




Don (Dawn) Paulson was born in Seattle, Washington on May 17, 1933 and grew up in Auburn and Enumclaw. His artistic talent emerged in his public school years, leading him to study art with Olive Malstrom Carl and Elizabeth Barlow. Paulson attended Auburn High School where, in the early 1950s, he became intrigued with the Abstract Expressionist movement and submitted a Jackson Pollock-inspired painting in the Puyallup Fair art show. Drafted into the army at age 19 he served for two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. It was here that he developed an interest in jazz. This led to a bus trip in the late 1950s to New York and Greenwich Village to pursue an art career.


He lived in New York and Los Angeles for short periods but returned to Seattle. He returned to New York in the 1960s and immersed himself in the Pop Art movement, meeting the luminaries of that world at events held at Andy Warhol's Factory. During that period Don also became intrigued with light shows. When he moved back to Seattle he began incorporating his paintings into that medium and under the name 'Lux Sit' operated psychedelic light shows at rock concerts and festivals.


After 1966 he devoted himself to painting. Paulson, a contributor to the Seattle Gay News , formed a friendship with Skippy LaRue, whose photo and clipping collection on female impersonators led Paulson to write about the topic. Specifically interested in female impersonators who performed at the Garden of Allah nightclub in Seattle, he collaborated with University of Washington communications professor Roger Simpson on the book, An Evening at the Garden of Allah: A Gay Cabaret in Seattle (Columbia University Press, 1996), for which they won the Governor's Writers Award in 1997. Paulson used the nickname "Dawn" among his friends, and he used "Whitey Boom" as an alias in connection with painting.


Paulson was a member of Black and White Men Together, a gay interracial organization committed to fostering supportive environments and overcoming racial and cultural barriers. BWMT/Seattle participated in educational, political, cultural, and social activities as a means of addressing racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and heterosexism in the community.

Don Paulson, author, artist, and chronicler of Seattle's drag culture, died February 6, 2006 in Seattle from injuries caused by a fall. He was 78.