If you define a "native" as someone born in a particular area, then Dennis is not an Omaha Native. Nevertheless, he has lived there long enough to qualify for the next best thing. Given the adage, "Home is where a man hangs his hat…" then Omaha Nebraska is home.
Dennis grew up in Kentucky with a stepfather, who was aware of the history of the nation, and a love of the West. "To say Dad was patriotic would be an understatement." In addition, his paternal father loved the rural regions, yet was excited by the mechanisms of the city. "Both men instilled in me a passion for the city and the country. An admiration for animals, as well as the machine. They taught me appreciation for the land, and love of its people. Those qualities have always been a part of my life. I am like a kid from the backwoods when I am in New York, Chicago, LA. Awed by the glass, steel and creations of humans, yet inspired by the vastness of the desert, the glory of the mountains, the density of the forests and depth of the canyons."
From childhood to adulthood, Dennis' experiences have been diverse. "I have been the victim and the survivor," said Dennis. "I try to have that come through in my work. I admire the achievements of the winners, but I still cheer for the underdog." This has caused him to earn a reputation for a life of extremes. "I've been to the lowest point one can reach in ones life, and I've experienced the glory of the mountaintop, financially, spiritually, emotionally mentally…"
"Painting and drawing was all I ever wanted to do, but I was not good at it. I tried to emulate other artists because my own creations only frustrated me. I had always been admonished that photography was not art. Yet, people like Ansel Adams, William Henry Jackson, Lewis Hine… They seemed to be able to communicate through photography quite well."
Unable to direct his hands to create what his eyes witnessed, until the camera, computer, and printing techniques evolved, Dennis' art moves from traditional photographic prints into the formation of an image, which often exaggerates the setting. "I do not possess the talent in my hands, but my mind has visions that I need to put to paper. I was creating for my own satisfaction, a scrapbook of sorts to go back later, to the places and people I have experienced. When the day came when I was no longer able to travel, I could go to my artwork to re-live the glory of a particular sunset, the rainbow of colors in the desert… The tranquility I felt at the sight of an old tractor abandoned somewhere long ago… My work is a contemplation of the past, documentation of the present.
My goal was also to share these things with my daughter when she got older. To show her what a small world it really is. To teach her compassion, awareness, appreciation of the world. I have been creating art for the love of it. I like what I could do with a camera and computer, but I never pushed it… Nor did anyone push me!"
Having my worked criticized, praised or chastised, was a real ego booster. I went on a mission then, to tell more of the stories. My primary goal was to create, then to share. My motivation was to express the emotions that I experienced, with others. What I cannot communicate in words, I attempt to put to paper. That is not to say that everyone accepts the work I do! Recently someone asked, "Where on earth did you get that?" "Oh, I picked it up at a garage sale for the frame" I tested. "What do you think?" "Either way, you got ripped off!" was the response. While being rejected is hurtful, I am already my worst critic in nearly everything I do. I know I use a great deal of shrouded symbolism in the transformation of my pictures and I do not expect everyone to "get it". It is what it is. I invite and will accept all criticism.
"I believe "art" is anything that evokes an emotion in the beholder; be the reaction one of joy, sorrow, bliss, tranquility, anger. Perhaps the piece takes someone back to a memorable time in his or her childhood. The art then, has accomplished the goal of the artist. Art is what comes from the soul of the creator, and draws from the soul of the viewer. It becomes the reality of the heart of the artist, which we can see and feel. Art can inspire us to action, to thoughts, to other ideas. Even if the response is, "Where on earth did you get that?" Because it is more about the art and the imagination.
"Both external camera filters and computerized digital filters can twist, turn, amplify the image to better communicate what it is I feel, and wish to portray. By changing the original image, I feel I can better focus on the message. Exploring photography and the computer and emotional expression, my art approaches becoming a painting, but not quite… I try to extract what is in the photograph as it relates to the message I would like to convey. I want to capture what the camera sees and express that moment. I do not expect everyone to fully understand the creations. Sometimes you will have to meet me in the middle. I see myself as a storyteller with a camera and computer. I have notes upon notes regarding each piece. The scribbles are not what you would expect. I do not necessarily store data such as the date, the place, and the subject. Instead, I write words such as; winter, desolation, independence, sharing, joy, abandonment, unity, patriotism, wealth, dull, poverty, heat, work, cold, popularity, life, spring, death, new, old, bright, freedom, summer, bondage. It is my hope that you "feel" these emotions in the various pieces."
Someone asked of Dennis' "Homeless" series, "That's rather political theme don't you think?" "Yes, it is. Some art should, or does address issues such as racism, homelessness, and pollution. Within my heart is also the desire to share issues be they political, cultural, and societal. I want to convey a message or inspire one to action." There is definitely a range of emotions in each piece as he attempts to articulate the experiences of these nameless individuals. "I am not trying to extract sympathy necessarily. I just want people to know that the situation exists. There is a theme of loneliness and forlorn solitude I wanted to remain continuous in these works. As a society, there are hundreds of issues, to which there is no one answer. Does my work prompt someone to donate a dozen cans of food to the food bank? Perhaps send a few extra dollars to your local shelter? Maybe you will volunteer the next time you are asked… Consequently, perhaps the piece will move one more person to action."
Each original print, produced individually and authorized by Dennis is created with a high end printing process which captures the brilliance, depth, and detail of the original concept.