2018 Artist of Honor: Dennis Dreher - Sculptor, Scientist, Innovator
Dennis Dreher, sculptor, scientist, and innovator, has been named the 2018 Artist of Honor for the Bethel Art Fair. Dennis and his wife, Gemma Morrill-Dreher, an artist in her own right, have been residents of the Flat Road in West Bethel for nearly 40 years. His career has spanned an impressive series of collaborators and accomplishments since he was a young man.
Dreher’s signature pieces involve intricately-woven geometric sculptures constructed of fine stainless steel wire, often in the form of circles linked together to suspend multi-color glass marbles. Many pieces must be touched and handled to be appreciated – they might fold, roll, or twist into new shapes altogether.
Dreher is an accomplished scientist as well as an artist, two disciplines he sees as intimately intertwined. He is a genius at envisioning spatial relations. In high school, he took an organic chemistry class, where he learned that no one had ever been able to properly model a carbon molecule in 3D. This inspired him to “portray the geometry of life,” and eventually he was able to create the model he was looking for.
Dreher born in Philadelphia and was raised there and in Buck’s County, Pennsylvania. His early artistic career began as a painter, which helped him realize that hi “mission for the rest of [his] life was to bring joy to people’s lives.” His artistic endeavors later evolved into jewelry making as an apprentice through the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, silk screening custom fabrics for a shop in Nantucket (where Jackie Onassis was a client), set design and building for the Celebration Barn Theatre; and carpentry, specializing in spiral staircases and anything that “seemed impossible.”
He proclaims himself “not a city guy,” and eventually made his way to Maine during the back-to-the-land movement. His “day jobs” in the local area have included stints in carpentry, road construction, and landscaping. However, has also served as a part of the Harvard research group that invented geographic information systems (GIS); collaborated with legendary architect Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome; and instructed and exhibited at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Dennis and Gemma Dreher met on a blind date, during which they exchanged portfolios. They each brought two children from previous relationships into their marriage. Dennis’s son Eli, a retired Army major, lives in Sumter, SC, and his daughter Cassandra resides in Hamburg, Germany. Gemma’s son Damian Morrill had a thriving contracting business in upstate New York, and recently moved with his wife Melissa and their adult children to a farm in Jonesville, South Carolina. Gemma’s other son Shaun Morrill died in 2016 after battles with MS and cancer. The Drehers report that their children speak highly of being raised in West Bethel, where they learned the work ethic that has carried them to their success as adults.
Dreher’s work will be on display at Elements Art Gallery at The Philbrook Place during the Art Fair.
For images and more information, visit his website www.DennisDreher.com