Otis Marion Dozier

Honorary Life Member – 1974

Otis Dozier (1904-1987), painter, printmaker, and teacher, first became prominent as a member of the Dallas Nine, the now well-known group of “Regionalist” artists. Dozier married Velma Davis, a jeweler and ceramicist, in 1940.  Their contributions to Dallas’s cultural life were spotlighted in the 1974 exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, “A Salute to the Dozier’s of Dallas.”  He was a charter member of the Dallas Artists League, exhibited his work in the Dallas Allied Arts exhibitions, and taught at the Dallas School of Creative Arts.  During this period, while studying works by Matisse, Picasso, Leger, and other European artists, Dozier developed a style characterized by strong forms and brilliant colors.  By the mid-1930s he had tightened up his brushwork and muted his palette to the earthy grays, beiges, greens, and browns favored by Regionalist artists.  Several of his major works from this era focused on the plight of farmers dispossessed by the Great Depression.  In Annual Move (1936), for example, a family loads up the car with cherished possessions, ready to move on through the barren brown landscape.  In Grasshopper and Farmer (1937), a baleful, outsized grasshopper pins a farmer to the ground.

Local critics praised Dozier’s work.  He executed murals at Forest Avenue High School and the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, (later Texas A&M University) and, under the auspices of the Public Works of Art Project, painted murals for post offices in Giddings, Arlington, and Fredericksburg.  He began establishing a national profile during the early 1940s, when he exhibited his work at the International Watercolor Exhibition, San Francisco, the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the First National Exhibition,  New York.

With a scholarship to the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, Dozier made hundreds of journeys into the Rocky Mountains and produced more than 3,000 sketches of mountains and ghost towns.  Under Robinson’s influence he developed a more spontaneous, fluid style, using implements such as paper dipped in ink, a burnt stick from a campfire, or his thumb.  He also developed expertise in the lithographic medium and participated in every circuit of the Lone Star Print-makers.

In 1945 Dozier returned to Dallas, where he taught life drawing at Southern Methodist University, and painting and drawing at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts school until 1970.  His work was featured in solo exhibitions at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, the University of Texas, Austin, and M. Knoedler and Company, New York City, among others.  A 1956 Dozier retrospective at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts generated a positive review of his work in a Dec.1956, issue of Time magazine.  During the latter part of his career Dozier developed a semi-abstract style, using looser brushwork and more brilliant colors than he had during the Regionalist era.  Although he moved away from the anecdotal subject matter of his 1930s work, he continued to use natural forms as a source of inspiration noting that “you’ve got to start from where you are and hope to get to the universal.”  He found fresh material for his work on sketching trips to the Big Bend and Gulf Coast areas of Texas, the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, and areas of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.  During the 1950s and early 1960s he traveled to Italy, Spain, Turkey, India, Ceylon, Thailand, Japan, and Mexico. Otis Dozier died of heart failure on July 28, 1987.

Otis Dozier links:
SMU biographical information
SMU sketchbook collection

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