Dennis Leon was born in 1933 in London, England and received his BFA, BS and MFA from Temple University. Artist and educator Dennis Leon consistently explored the subject of the natural landscape. He was first inspired as a child by the moors of Yorkshire and then by his subsequent travels throughout the US and abroad. Leon's art emerged from the observations and memories of his experiences within these various environments. His body of work includes site-specific installations, collage, drawings, pastels, and sculpture in wood and bronze. In each case, the landscape, natural forms and textures, and the artist's relationship to them were of central focus. His work deals with the themes of surface and physicality, timelessness and monumentality, memory and imagination, and mystery and surprise.
Oliver Ranch Installation — Dennis Leon, "Untitled", 1992-1993
As a teacher and an artist, he has sought to impart the value of self-reflection without isolation; he would offer that his art his interactive-and his instruction is equally so. Over the course of his career the artist has had more than eighty exhibitions, and his works are included in collections at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Corcoran Gallery, The Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Oakland Museum, among others.
For most of his twenty years with CCAC, he chaired the sculpture department; he previously served as director of the Sculpture and Fine Arts departments at the Philadelphia College of Art. His career is further distinguished by the recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National institute of Arts and Letters, The Guggenheim Foundation and several other private foundations.
1993 Cheryl Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA; 1992 Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Santa Monica, CA; 1991 Chemeketa Community College, Salem, OR; 1991 Anne Reid Gallery, Ketchum, ID; 1991 Cheryl Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA; 1991Butters Gallery, Portland, OR; 1990 Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Santa Monica, CA; 1990 California State University, Fresno, CA; 1989Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Santa Monica, CA; 1988 J. Noblett Gallery, Sonoma, CA; 1987 J. Noblett Gallery, Sonoma, CA; 1986, 1984, 1982, 1981, 1979 Fuller Goldeen Gallery, San Francisco, CA; 1981 San Jose Museum of Fine Arts, San Jose, CA; 1978 Galleria D'Arte Del Cavallino, Venice Italy; 1977 Hansen Fuller Gallery, San Francisco, CA; 1973 James Willis Gallery, San Francisco, CA; 1971 Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia , PA; 1970, 1968, 1966, Kraushaar Gallery, NY, NY; 1965 Henri Gallery, Washington, DC.
Grants / Fellowships
1984 Marin Headlands Art Center, Djerassi Foundation Fellowship; 1983 Djerassi Foundation Fellowship; 1982 Macdowell Fellowship; 1979 National Endowments for the Arts; 1978 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Golden Gate National Recreation area; 1967 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, National Institute of Arts and Letters.
Dennis died in 1998. In a letter addressed to Steve Oliver, Dennis states:
In this truly site-specific piece, there are three deep desires:
- I want the work to express an intimate and compatible relationship between itself, the site in particular and nature in general. I consider this intimacy and compatibility to be equivalent of the classical concept of harmony.
- I want the sculpture to be of the spirit and as modestly egocentric as possible.
- I want the sculpture to be a blend of physicality and memory – which combination enables me to believe that thee work possesses poetic wisdom.