Dennis Desprois: “The most interesting man in the world”
Shea Stanfield~ 12/17/2014
SCOTTSDALE – The great New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” – the perfect metaphor for the way local artist Dennis Desprois has approached his life and career.
Growing up in Eugene, Oregon, Dennis developed skills as a keen observer, quick study, for things he was interested in. He became known in school as “the kid who could draw better than anyone else.” It wasn’t long before he realized “artists” have special protection when it comes to being held accountable for minor infractions during the school day. The straight and narrow path of school discipline suddenly became a bit wider, and he liked it.
Unfortunately, we become products of our times, and upon graduation from high school, not wanting to be drafted or to move to Canada, the young Dennis Desprois joined the U.S. Air Force to serve his time in the Vietnam War. During this time, he discovered a new way of observing and recording his environment through photography. Dennis found photography was the perfect medium to capture his environment and things that attracted his interest. Fortunately, a dark room was located on the base. Dennis gained access to the facility for developing his film. Over time, he stayed with his photography and developing printing of film process, believing that experience with trial and error was a great teacher. This philosophy paid off for him, returning to civilian life with a new and what would soon prove to be a very marketable skill.
Upon completion of his military service, Dennis bought himself a used Nikon and headed off to be a photographer in San Francisco. As he will share with you, “this was not an unusual move in 1970; there were plenty of “photographers” to go around.” With a little help from a friend, Dennis was able to land a job working the parking lot during the home games for the San Francisco Giants. It wasn’t long before “the guy with the wider than usual straight and narrow path” was able to talk the PR guy into letting him in the on-field photo area when he finished parking buses. By the end of the season, Dennis presented a stack of 8 x 10 glossies to the PR manager and the rest is history. The following season, Dennis had his press pass and continued to move into middle management creating one of the first “coaching videos systems” in the major leagues. During this time, Dennis was able to get in with the 49’s as one of their two official team photographers. His career in pro-sports photography continued for the next 30 seasons.
Through all the years in professional photography, Dennis always kept a canvas on an easel and paints handy. He felt before he could call himself an artist he needed to reach a level of technical proficiency. Eventually, Dennis decided to hang up his spikes, and move to Scottsdale, where he continued in sports photography with the Seattle Mariners and the Chicago Cubs, during spring training and a couple of Super Bowls. But, now his painting had became his main focus.
Dennis is an artist who thinks and paints in series, beginning the transition with Victorian house reliefs, then moving to art deco fashion plates using various collage techniques. Over the years, his painting continues in series style. For the last two and a half years, Dennis has produced a series of ballerinas. Let it not be said Dennis ignores the subject of the “manly man.” Most recently he has touched the brush to canvas beginning the “Most Interesting Man In The World” series based on the Dos Equis ads campaign. This series is mainly for his personal amusement and gifts for friends. Other series works weave in subjects from The Godfather, James Bond, Rick’s Café or the Maltese Falcon, all equally charming, witty, very colorful, and endlessly captivating,
You may visit Dennis’s paintings at “Work of Artists” located near Scottsdale Road and the 101, in Scottsdale until the end of the year. To find out more about this local Renaissance man and to view an expanded selection of his work, visit his Web site at www.dennisdesproisart.com.
Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.