The first real art Dennis Stott encountered was a drawing he discovered as a young boy while rummaging through an old, roll-top desk. That small artifact set him on a path that took him first to Butte College then CSUC in northern California. It was at Chico State that he encountered another inspiration: Ken Morrow.
“As a very physically fit and visually dominating man (he ran and worked out daily) [Morrow] received immediate attention when walking into a room,” Stott says of the Chicago native who taught at Chico for 30 years. Stott was impressed by his teacher’s humility and his devotion to craft. “I eagerly desired to visit him while he built life-sized metal statuary. His knights, jesters, horses and other imagined figures were a delight.” Morrow was equally adept in the two-dimensional. His paintings, dealing with many of the same themes, where created using “gold, copper and silver powder mixed with Elmer’s Glue and blended into his acrylic paintings with a gas welding torch.”
In 1985, just as he was planning to embark on an early retirement, Morrow and his wife Donna died when their car slipped on an icy road and crashed.
Video of a memorial exhibit of Ken Morrow’s work, from 2006
Stott recently retired from his own career in graphic design, and has since devoted himself to his fine art craft. Like Morrow, he’s primarily a figurative artist, and he’s been dealing with issues of aging and mortality. He’s been seeking out old cars, trucks and farm machinery, in the rural part of southern Utah County where he lives and works, for his subjects. “Beautiful landscape backgrounds, ground cover such as weeds and the like growing up encroaching on machine identity as well as the machinery itself which is aging, decomposing becoming useless, is a bit of self identification. Aging is a hard invasive time of life which I am now processing,” Stott says. “But, there is a beauty, a symmetry as well as appreciation for those who designed, making come to life their concepts.”
Stott’s work, while rooted in the realistic, is concerned with symbolism. In addition to his art degree, Stott minored in religious philosophy in college and has returned to many of those concerns in his paintings. “I have been trying to explain through paintings some of the hidden symbolism that is so prevalent throughout Biblical writings,” he says. “The figure becomes important in these paintings as well. I have found rekindled joy with the human form.”
He’s also inspired by the landscapes near his Spanish Fork home. “I live in an area surrounded by these magnificent mountains,” he says. “This area is blessed with changing seasons producing scene after dynamic scene. A visual banquet is prepared for the observant artist inside each of us. So, I take myriad photos while strolling through these gigantic monuments. I then come to my studio, using modern devices such as computers, monitors, programs and the like, choose those shots I enjoy and sometimes combine, sketch and then prepare to paint.”
He currently has an exhibit of 22 paintings at the Snow Horse Art Gallery in Layton.
You can view more of the artist’s work at drstottartist.com.
During the month of February we ask Utah artists about a specific piece of art or artist, living or not, local or global, that has sparked their curiosity or influenced their work. We run their responses throughout the month.