There is a brand new art gallery in Marshall. The DENOART Gallery is a permanent one-man show featuring the artwork of Dennis O’Bryant, who lives in a century-old Victorian bungalow just east of the downtown historic district at 707 East Burleson Street.
“I’ve heard that back in 1895, this house was a Sears & Roebuck package house,” he said. “They pre-built them as kits back then, and they were made out of pre-cut everything. They ordered the house from the catalog and it came in on a train. In Marshall, that was only a few blocks away; Marshall has always been a train town. Once the packaged house arrived, they hired a builder who put it all together. I bought the place in 1995. It was full of junk. The wallpaper on the walls was falling down, the cheesecloth that held the wallpaper was hanging over the boards with the wallpaper over the cheesecloth and all of it crumbling to dust.”
He removed the cloth and paper, cleaned and polished the boards and decided to leave them bare. The hardwood floors were polished. The stained glass windows in the entry hall and front room are original to the house. The high ceilings create an air of spaciousness. The tall windows let in enough light to give the whole house a bright and cheerful atmosphere. The unusual window covering he chose to diffuse the light is frosted vinyl. O’Bryant uses the vinyl when he works in his brother’s graphic arts business, which he has done for thirty years. “I covered the windows with the vinyl and added the cut out clouds,” he said. “There are clouds all over the house.”
But why did he decide to open his home to the public as an art gallery? “It began to get discouraging for me to carry my art here and there from one place to another, to bring it all back home, shuffle it all around, fix up the dings and dents and damage it can get from travel,” the tall, spare artist explained as he leaned back comfortably against his mid-century modern sofa in his turn-of-the-century parlor. “The metal sculpture is heavy; the clay pieces are not only heavy, they are also fragile. The watercolors and photographs are framed with breakable glass. When you take it out to a show, you have to have labels, you have to have a way to set the work up, and you have to sit around with it all day, then take it down, and maybe spend a day or two going to the exhibit location, being there, and then coming back. That is time lost that could have been spent working and making art. After I’ve done all that, I’m tired. It takes a while for me to get over it. It takes a while for my art to get over it. … The more I thought about it, the more I thought it might be a nice idea to have a gallery right here in Marshall, where I live. I thought about finding a place to rent in downtown Marshall, and then I thought, ‘Wait! I already have a place in downtown Marshall!’ I’m going to open up here at my house for a while and see how it goes. It’s not dramatic. I’m just an artist, and I’ve decided I’m going to open a gallery in my house, and that’s what I’m doing.”
O’Bryant wrote a poem to explain why he decided to open his home and studio as a private, personal gallery to showcase his art.
I’ve carried my art here, I’ve carried my art there,
…I’ve carried my art everywhere
Up the stairs and down the halls
-diners, sidewalks and shopping malls
Hung it high and hung it low, in the air and on the floor
When the show is over we’re packing that art out the door
Homeward bound again with an experience no less
hanging my art where it shows best
As a painter, O’Bryant chooses to work in a variety of styles ranging from traditional to linear and abstract constructions. The paintings are usually done in acrylic paint, and they often include the use of Sharpie permanent markers or the addition of paper collage and other mixed media items. He also makes sculptural pieces in fabricated metal and clay. He is a collage and mixed media artist, photographer, and poet.
Sculpted works are usually made in metal. They are abstract pieces composed of geometric and twisted pieces of steel. His clay pieces, however, usually have more of a human element, which includes stylized female torsos and faces as well as full figures and heads.
His first artistic success after leaving the corporate world was with a series of paintings of dark and mysterious Caddo Lake. After the Caddo Lake series, he did a series of abstract paintings, and then he began making abstract metal sculptures. He also creates Raku pottery – and then there’s his poetry. He prefers to create pieces that tell a story. Mostly it is the story about his own journey.
“All art is made in the image of a creator – it’s just primal, an innate desire to create. I don’t know if I’d know how to not do it,” he said. “My hands are always making something. My art is constantly growing. I never really want to get pigeonholed as the “Caddo Lake Painter Guy” or “The Welder Guy,” or whatever it is that I’m doing when I’m doing it. I’m constantly growing and evolving in an upward direction. All things are raw material for creating: the sketchbook, photos, trips and personal relationships all blend together to create this art.”
He someday plans to build a larger studio in the backyard close to his storage building, which he built to echo the form of the house. The existing studio area of the house is filled with works in progress. A narrow staircase leads to the attic. “There’s another whole house up there!” he laughed. He explained that if it were possible to open the attic with flooring and lighting he would double the size of his small house.
O’Bryant explained how DENOART, the name he uses for publicity, publications and now his gallery, came to be. It originated at a time when he was working in corporate America. The company for which he worked identified employees by combining the first three letters of their first names and the first letter of their second names. People began calling each other by that combination. He became DENO. The name stuck with him, and when he left that position he decided to combine it with what he was doing. Now that DENO was creating art, he found that he enjoyed the name DENOART.
O’Bryant’s gallery is his home, and his home is now his gallery. It contains his studio sketchbooks, displays of his work and his finished art. “This way it is My house, My art, MY gallery!” he said. “And I am answerable to no one about what I exhibit or how I exhibit it or how it should look or what I want to do. Artists want people to look at their art. Sometimes people think something strange when you say, ‘Come by and look at my art.’ You will get this strange stare and the Heisman Trophy stiff arm and they will say, ‘I’m not going to buy anything now.’ Of course the art is for sale, but no artist is going to force it on you. It’s not like I’m selling used cars or furniture. This is my experience. This is my art. This is my life. This is my home, and this is the dining room, and it is the main gallery, and it is also a place to live.
While many people would find it uncomfortable to think about inviting strangers into their homes to see and perhaps buy their work, O’Bryant insisted that he has already had experience with people taking a tour of his home. One year, he opened his house for a Christmas Home Tour during Marshall’s Wonderland of Lights festival.
“I had about 500 people come through here,” he said. “Not all at one time, of course. Sometimes it was one or two, sometimes it was a group of three or four. I had the whole house open, and I had my big, decorated backyard garden open too. I had a little fire going to warm the people because it was cold. One night, two different tour buses showed up with about 40 people in each of them. I had to help them up the stairs to come into the house, and then they wanted to see the garden, so I had to help them down the stairs too. The night the buses pulled up at my front door was a little much. It was hard to have that many people coming through the house at one time, but that doesn’t happen very often. Having a handful here and there where we can talk and visit is pleasant. This time I am inviting the whole world to see my gallery – but maybe not all at once.”
Since O’Bryant admits that his hands are always busy creating art in one form or another, he plans to create a mosaic sculpture during the hours he is keeping the house/gallery open. He has already selected clay and ceramic materials and has secured a large base for the project. He intends to begin the sculpture as soon as he opens the doors to the gallery.
“I’m setting some hours when I will be here,” he said. He plans to close during the heat of summer and will reopen in the fall. Gallery hours will continue from April to the end of July. They will be Thursday and Friday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the afternoon, or by appointment. When it’s freezing cold in the winter or blistering hot in the summer, I’ll be closed. But that’s okay because nobody will want to come out in that kind of weather anyhow … and if they do, they can call and we’ll arrange something.
DENOART Gallery will open beginning on Thursday, April 3 and will be open every Thursday and Friday through July 25, 26, and 27, with an open house/studio/gallery scheduled for that summer weekend.
For further information or to schedule a visit, contact Dennis O’Bryant at www.de noart.com, check his page on Facebook, or call him at 903-503-3675.
2005-12-1 Shreveport Times article by Jennifer Flowers
Exhibit: The female form takes shape
O'Bryant describes his images as a cross between the styles of Paul Gaugain, a French impressionist and Andy Warhol, an American pop artist.
2005-11-29 Times Photo
2006-5-9 Marshall News Messenger article by Bridgette R. Outten Evolution of Art - Local artist's work fills last minute void at Marshall Visual Art Center.
O'Bryant said, explaining he keeps inventory of his work on the advice of well known painter and friend, the late Clyde Connell. "So that's a critical element."
Dennis O'Bryant, featured artist at this year's Spring Arts Festival, sculpts a clay bust Saturday morning to the delight of onlookers. O'Bryant's display featured several "raku" clay pieces, which means the artist used an ancient process to fire the works of art. O'Bryant's work is currently on exhibit at Easley's Fine Art on Main Street. The show will continue throughout the month of May.
Marshall News Messenger Ingenious talents Local artists strive to gain attention of Marshallites By Sandra Cason, News Messenger Saturday, May 17, 2008
Despite its small town size, Marshall offers big time opportunities for artists and those who admire their works, says Lou Violette. Dennis O'Bryant agrees in part. He recently was a featured artist at the Cultural Crossroads Spring Arts Festival in Minden, LA., and the not-for-profit arts agency purchased his steel sculpture entitled, Let Go. A graphic artist by trade, O'Bryant has produced paintings, clay and steel pieces. "We have an excellent art community," O'Bryant said of local talent. "And I think our neighboring cities are a tad bit envious that we have facilities like the Marshall Visual Art Center and the Michelson Museum next door to each other in the downtown corridor. Susan Spears does a good job at the Michelson and Brooks Little has done an equally good job at the center. "I'm glad I have my home base here. I think it's going to be up to the tourism promotion group to suggest ways to bring in more out of town patrons. Of course, we would want outside recognition. We want people to come here because we need their support." Given the community's economic composition, O'Bryant said it is to be expected that there is not a "high focus" on art, but he added: "We do pretty good. Sure, it could be better, but it could be worse too." O'Bryant's steel sculptures may be seen in the yard of his home and studio at 707 E. Burleson St. and photographs of his artistic endeavors may be viewed on his Web site, http://www.denoart.com/.
Marshall News Messenger Caddo Lake Art on Display
By Terri Hahn, News Messenger
Monday, February 22, 2010
With water-loving cypress trees bearing long sleeves of sleepy Spanish moss, sleek white egrets and startling sunsets, Caddo Lake's obvious charms call out to the souls of artists both near and far. The Marshall Visual Art Center, 208 E. Burleson St., is hosting a show featuring Caddo Lake images in paint, mixed media and pottery through April 16 by artists enchanted with the lakes mysteries and its simple but unique nature.
"The artists are from the region, and we are holding it in part to bring focus to the beauty of Caddo Lake and the sensitivity of the ecosystems and environment there," said Brooks Little, director. Included in the local artist lineup are Kay Clement, Doug Heard, Christian Seidler, JoAnne Imhof, Robert Harris, Sally Martin, Christine Chandler and Dennis O'Bryant.
Ms. Martin's watercolor and mixed media pieces depict a magical Caddo Lake with happy water lilies. "It's my ocean," she said. "Wherever I have lived, whatever body of water I live near is my ocean. The cypress knees and moss that hangs down depicts mystery." Ms. Chandler feels she is in good company at the MVAC show for the beloved lake. She has pieces inspired by rain on the lake, its different moods and perspectives. "You wouldn't think there would be so many looks, but everybody sees it differently. Everyone has a different take on it," said Ms. Chandler. "I think everything in this exhibit is fantastic and so different."
A reception will not be held in conjunction with this collection.
For more information on show or Marshall Visual Art Center activities, call 903-938-9860.
Margaritas, sangria and Tex Mex goodies accent the opening party at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts on Sat, July 10, 7 - 9 pm, says Dennis O'Bryant.
O'Bryant, a former Shreveporter who has been based in Marshall, Tx, for some years, says nine artists from the East Texas area are part of the exhibit at the Longview Museum.
"The LMFA is one of the best Contemporary Art Museums this side of Dallas and I am pretty excited to be showing with a couple of my best artist friends from Marshall, Erin Lambers & Curtis Graff," says the sculptor-painter-photographer.
Marshall News Messenger Local artists part of 'Spiritual Undertones’ exhibit in Longview Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - Claudia Lowery, Contributing Writer
Art may be visual, a feast for the eyes, but often there is a deeper story on display.
The Longview Museum of Fine Arts opened its newest exhibition, "Spiritual Undertones - The Angels Among Us," on July 10. The exhibit features nine East Texas artists and their work.
Marshall was well-represented by Dennis O'Bryant's metal sculpture, Erin Lambers' clay squiggle pots and Curtis Graff's mixed media.
"Most artists would probably agree they have to reach within themselves to draw out their innermost feelings and desires that shape their work; therefore, each person's individuality appears and influences the outcome of his or her art," stated a press release from the museum.
Ms. Lambers is a full-time potter and clay teacher. Her work is displayed in galleries and stores in more than 26 states. Each piece has a part of her in it and so she calls her work "Pottery that Speaks." Her work may be viewed at www.erinspottery.com.
O'Bryant is not only a sculptor of metal but creates in clay and paint as well. His subjects include Caddo Lake, the female form and architecture. He has work displayed in private collections and has been featured in local and Shreveport exhibitions. His work may be seen at www.denoart.com.
Graff is probably best known locally for homes created by his construction company. However, when not building homes, Graff is an artist at heart, creating mixed media art involving collage and high-gloss finishes. His complex designs integrate geometric shapes, graphic pop-art style and photographic elements.
The remaining six artists also included in the exhibition are Larry Kitchens and Coy Lothrop of Kilgore, Thora Poneleit Doucette and Kristen Henton of Longview, Michael Bishop of Gladewater and Bart Souttendijk of Quitman. Their work represents a variety of techniques and styles.
The "Spiritual Undertones" exhibition will be on display through Aug. 28 at the Museum of Fine Arts, 215 E. Tyler Street.