Voices in the past: Barney Delabano interviewing Otis and Velma Dozier

What a week it’s been……..earlier this week I posted my father’s interview with Vivian Louise Aunspaugh and today its an interview with Otis and Velma Dozier who both passed away in 1987 and 88 respectively.  My mother when she found the wire recording of my father’s interview with Miss Aunspaugh also came across an interview my father made with Otis and Velma which was done on a cassette tape player.  What a treasure trove of Texas art history.

Otis was one of my father’s painting teachers and later my father called Otis and Velma friends.  I knew Otis and Velma for just about as far back as I can remember, whether it be my father’s stories of them or when my father took me over to their house as a child.  Much later in life, Otis and Velma reached out to young artists such as myself and other lucky souls and hosted pot luck dinners.  After Otis passed, Velma invited me over and gave me all of Otis’s handmade papers that he had collected on their trips together.  She told me that I could have it if I didn’t do what Otis did…he brought the paper home and put into a drawer and then went out and bought paper to draw on.  Her charge to me was to take this paper and all of Otis’s charcoal and create art.  And I did.  Velma’s gift….both the paper, charcoal and charge kept me inspired and drawing for a good while.

In this interview you never hear my father ask questions or how he might be prompting them but this interview which is only 10:21 minutes, is so chockfull of Otis and Velma stories.

One of my favorite parts of the interview, Velma is talking about her mallet and how she acquired it.  The conversation starts at 4:54 and ends at 5:42

I have a mallet here that when we were in (Salon?) and there was a carver using ebony to carve elephants with…… I asked if he sell me his mallet and no……..he wouldn’t and he said he wouldn’t sell it to me because it was balanced for him…..and I offered him more money and that wouldn’t work and finally I said, “But this thing has been used by the hand of the master, if I should have it, would I get some of your skill and ability?”  And then he gave it to me for the first price I offered which wasn’t very much.  I use this thing as much as anything I got in the house and if I lost it I would lose my…..my very spirit and go dead.

indian corn
Otis Dozier “Indian Corn”, collection of the Dallas Museum of Art

To hear them in this interview recount stories of traveling to India or out West and going to the Indian reservations in New Mexico and Arizona and watching Indian dances or their talking about how many different type of brahman cattle or Indian corn there is…. is fascinating and it takes me back to my own memories of the wonderful stories they told at those pot luck dinners they hosted so long ago.   This couple left an incredible legacy to the arts and culture of the state of Texas and to generations of artists…..from my father to me, Billy Hassell, Frank X.Tolbert 2 and countless others whom they inspired.

It’s so good to hear their voices again.

I love how the interview ends and seems so fitting for this couple, a jeweler and a painter.

Otis:  She’s looking at the foreground and I’m looking off at the mountains

Velma:  Yeah

Otis:  And that’s our difference.

Velma Davis Dozier, “Pin”1969, 1 7/8 x 1 5/8 x 1 in. Cast Gold With Coral And Pearls, collection of the Dallas Museum of Art.
Otis Dozier,” Just before Daylight” 1971,30 × 36 in. oil on canvas, collection of the Dallas Museum of Art

You can find out more information about Otis and Velma at Texas State Historical Association online handbook.

Otis Marion Dozier and Velma Davis Dozier


The Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant was established in 1990 to honor the memory of Dallas artists Otis and Velma Davis Dozier, who strongly believed in the enriching experiential and aesthetic influence of travel on an artist’s work. The grant seeks to recognize exceptional talent in professional Texas artists who wish to expand their artistic horizons through domestic or foreign travel.

Thank you again to my mother, Barbara Delabano for allowing me to release this wonderful piece of Texas art history thru my blog.

The featured photograph on the home page and what is used for the Sound Cloud image I got off of Google images but it is by Benard Williamson, for the catalog “A salute to the Doziers of Dallas.  Truly a wonderful photograph.

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