October 15–December 5, 2004
Otis Dozier (1904-1987) was raised on a cotton farm between Forney and Mesquite, developing a love for art and nature at a young age. After his family moved into Dallas in 1920, he received his earliest art training from well-known instructor Vivian Aunspaugh. Following his 1925 graduation from Forest High School, Dozier continued his art studies at the Dallas Art Institute with Olin Travis and Tom Stell. Also, during the 1920s, he accompanied his parents and three sisters on at least three automobile trips through the American West, familiarizing himself with the region that he would later depict in his art.
Six of Dozier’s works were included in 1932’s “Exhibition of Young Dallas Painters”; a number of these artists, including Dozier, Jerry Bywaters, John Douglass, Alexandre Hogue, William Lester, and Everett Spruce, would go on to form such significant local organizations as the Dallas Artists League and the Lone Star Printmakers. Dozier also was represented in the Texas Centennial Exposition’s art exhibit during the summer of 1936. In the summer of 1938, he won a scholarship to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, one of the most renowned art schools in the trans-Mississippi West in the 1930s, where he studied with Boardman Robinson. The next year he became Robinson's assistant, a position he held until 1945. Following his 1940 marriage to Velma Davis, the couple explored much of Colorado, with Dozier producing more than 3,000 sketches of mountains and mining towns in the course of his career.
In 1945, the Doziers returned to Dallas at the invitation of Jerry Bywaters, where he taught for a few years at SMU and at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts School until 1970. Dozier began to develop a semiabstract style, using looser brushwork and more brilliant colors than he had during the Regionalist era. During the 1950s and early 1960s, the Doziers’ international travels prompted him to include Indian and Asian subjects in his work. Although Dozier moved away from the anecdotal subject matter of his 1930s work for several decades, in the final years of his life he returned to childhood roots and early interests, as he again executed depictions of Texas rural life and the natural world.
From October 15 through December 5, the Mildred Hawn Gallery in SMU’s Hamon Arts Library exhibited thirty of Dozier’s sketchbooks, on loan from the Dallas Museum of Art. This sampling furnished insights into the research and execution of his depictions of landscapes, flora, and fauna of the American West as well as sketches resulting from the couple’s international travels. In addition to the sketchbooks displayed, a computer kiosk enabled visitors to “leaf through” a virtual representation of one of the sketchbooks, as well as selections from three others.
The Hawn Gallery exhibition was a companion show to one at Dallas’s McKinney Avenue Contemporary, November 6-December 10. This exhibition included several dozen of Dozier’s paintings, along with works on paper, photographs, and selected archival materials from the Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Collection. The curator for both exhibitions was Sam Ratcliffe, Head of the Jerry Bywaters Special Collections Wing in the Hamon Arts Library, the repository for the Dozier Collection.