William Henry Vandeveer [NRP 2018-2024]

First name:  William
Middle name:
Last name:

Member: Non-resident patron member ;
2024 ;


Dennis VanDerveer was born in the sleepy university town of Deland, Florida in 1938. His father, William Henry VanDerveer, an artist and member of the Scenic Artists Union, emigrated from Brooklyn, New York to build the Florida exhibit for the 1939 World’s Fair. While in Deland, Dennis was born. When the exhibit was completed, William Henry, as a member of the Scenic Artists Union moved back to Brooklyn, New York with his family to supervise the installation and the final painting of the scenic art at the fair.

From his father, who painted prolifically, and his Parsons educated mother, a fashion designer and Disney cartoonist, Dennis actually got the idea that he could paint and he began to do just that, paint. He does to this day. You might say he was “to the manor born.” This was a family of artists. Dennis began drawing and painting, pen and pencil, and watercolors under the tutelage of his mother, Joyce Mary. These were war years and William Henry VanDerveer was posted to the Pacific with the Army Air Corps.

Some years later, the family moved from the New York area to Florida. By this time Dennis was 15, and he began looking for a job. One fateful day, he walked into a sign shop in Orlando, Florida and applied for a job as a sign painter’s apprentice. This was a profession where he could use his talent and artistic skill to make a living, and from 1958 to 1996 he did just that. After he served his apprenticeship in the small sign shop, he gravitated to billboard painting, recognizing that in billboard pictorial work he could utilize his growing knowledge and talent to paint. For the next 38 years he painted billboards in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Louisiana, Texas and Arizona. During these years he worked with numerous artists, talented educated artists. He found that most pictorial billboard painting shops were repositories for frustrated artists and Dennis gleaned the knowledge and expertise to build his painting skills to a high degree from these men and women.

The apex of this adventure were his years in the Pictorial Painters Union of San Francisco where he worked with such storied pictorial companies as California Outdoor Advertising and Gannet Outdoor Advertising. He pulled swing stages up hundreds of feet in the air as he and his assistant rode massive stages loaded with paint to dizzying heights. He painted and painted and painted.

Beginning around 1992 computer-generated vinyl posters begin to make serious inroads into the billboard painting business. Dennis began to get less and less work and decided to gravitate to scenic art. He went to work at the Walt Disney World scenic art shop where he worked for a year or two painting backdrops and murals. In 1997, while rendering the animals on the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, Dennis fell some 40 feet to the ground below seriously injuring his back and ending his career as a production scenic artist, yet he continued painting murals, backdrops, television sets, movie props, and the like for various scenic contractors in the Central Florida area as long as he could do so from ground level.

Dennis retired from production painting in 2003 and now paints in his studio at his easel. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in humanities at Rollins College in 2007, and is now enrolled as a graduate student pursuing an MFA at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California.



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Document permalink:
http://salmagundi.org/artist/?p= 75192

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Record birth date:
December 28, 2019

Last updated: March 2, 2024 at 12:28 pm

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