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Demitri Vail

Posted by Dr. William Gorman 
Demitri Vail
October 19, 2002 09:14AM
I remember back in the 1950's and 1960's we had a great portrait artist here in Dallas by the name of Demitri Vail (if I got it spelled correctly). A lot of his paintings were hung in the foyer of the Fine Arts Theater and some of the other "art theaters" in North Dallas. When Hollywood or Broadway stars came to Dallas to play the summer or state fair musicals, he nearly always painted them. With the closing of many theaters, I wonder where his painting collection is kept today?
Re: Demitri Vail
October 21, 2002 07:31AM
Bill, for years many of Dimitri Vail's portraits hung in the State Fair Music Hall. I don't think they're there any longer. I think one of his of Mariano Martinez hangs at Mariano's Restaurant in Old Town.
Re: Demitri Vail
October 21, 2002 11:15AM
Demitri Vail passed away a couple of years ago and his house (on Armstrong Pkwy - I think) was razed.
Re: Demitri Vail
October 21, 2002 07:18PM
I seen to remember several paintings hanging in "The Forum" (a bar) in the Promenade Center on Coit Rd. in Richardson back in the 80's. I think he use to frequent the place. I think it's still open but haven't been there in years.
Re: Demitri Vail
October 22, 2002 08:37AM
I remember that there was an exclusive restaurant that displayed his paintings also. They kept a perpetually reserved table with a single rose on it for his use. Just can't remember the name of the place.
Re: Dimitri Vail
October 23, 2002 06:30AM
Funny how these conversations jog your mind. The restaurent wasn't so exclusive after all. Now I remember that it was the restaurant in the Holiday Inn Central on N. Central Expressway.
They displayed the portraits for many years and kept a table with a rose reserved for "D."
Re: Demitri Vail
October 24, 2002 08:14AM
I can remember seeing a portrait of a famous person, although I don't remember who the famous person was, in a restaurant we used to go to when I was very young. The only restaurants I remember ever going to with my parents was Jay's Marine Grill (memorable because I loved their popovers). I may be wrong, but I want to say the portrait was of Loretta Young.
Re: Demitri Vail
September 04, 2004 10:28PM
Dmitri Vail School of Art was located at the European Crossroads 2829 West N.W. Hwy. Dallas, Texas in the 70's/80's. I was impressed with the unique way he had of directing your technique and keeping it your own while he helped you improve it. He believed that each artist should pursue his own inspiration.- www.izziart.bizland.com
Re: Dimitri Vail
September 07, 2004 10:55PM
Wasn't there a strange story that went with Vail's later years, like him living destitute in his Park Cities house with no electricity, sleeping on the floor, etc. Seems like I heard or read it in the 80s or maybe as part of his obit in the 90s. Seems like he sold off all his works to pay the house taxes with and preferred to be a hermit and refused any charity his last few years. Anyone else ever heard that? Very sad if so.
Re: Dmitri Vail
September 08, 2004 06:37AM
a search on google about Mr. Vail turned up this interesting link
Re: Dimitri Vail
September 08, 2004 05:34PM
I remember him sitting out in front of his house on spring and summer evenings greeting passersby. Certainly unusual behavior for that neighborhood-he seemed like a nice man.
Re: Demitri Vail
September 18, 2004 09:22AM
Dmitri was a likable character and a facile technician, which is probably what enabled him to be a good teacher. But he wasn't a particularly perceptive portrait artist, and his pictures were good superficial likenesses of their subjects, but not much more. Maybe if he'd spent more time on each portrait. What he may have lacked in artistry he made up in quantity, as his life-size works seemed to appear everywhere there was wall space. I always held the idea that he worked from photos, as I doubt that his celebrity subjects had much time to sit for him. I'd like to know where all those pictures are today.
Re: Demitri Vail
September 19, 2004 06:14PM
In the late 70s, I recall a number of his paintings hanging in the Lebaron Hotel on 183 at Regal Row.
Ben, do you remember that, too?
Re: Demitri Vail
September 26, 2004 08:16AM
In the early- to mid-1980s my wife, Beth, I used to frequent a restaurant upstairs in the Promenade shopping center by the name of "L & J's." One evening we noticed that on the first floor just under the escalator (yes, an outdoor escalator) there was a business space in which there was obviously an art class going on. Curious, we went in one evening to look around. The short version is that the teacher was Dmitri Vail. During the course of our inquiry, he asked us if we would be interesting in sitting for about 30 minutes for his students in exchange for which he would do a 24" x 30" charcoal portrait of each of us. We did and he did. We had them framed, and I'm looking back and forth at them as I type this. I think he sprayed them with some sort of preservative, they look as fresh today as the day he painted them He dated them "'84" and signed his name. (I think it took him about 10 minutes for each of the portraits!)
Re: Dimitri Vail
October 05, 2004 11:09AM
I worked at the Holiday Inn Central in Dallas as a Bellman in 1973? . Dimitri had a driver/chauffer who was supposed to transport paintings to Lafayette La.for a show but the driver did not show.I really admired his paintings and offered to take him despite the snow and ice storm (remember). He went to the dodge dealership and wrote a check for a brand new dodge van and we made the trip despite having to drive 15 miles per/hr on the ice.
Re: Demitri Vail
October 05, 2004 07:59PM
Demitri Vail used to frequent many of the clubs in Dallas where I would be singing. He asked if he could paint my portrait and I did sit for him many times in his studio behind his home on Armstrong Parkway. My portrait was displayed for many years at the Chateaubriand Restaurant on McKinney, where I sang for about five years.He was always a gentlemen and very interesting to talk with. I would love to have my portrait but don't know where in the world it could be. If anyone knows where his collection is, I would appreciate your response.
He also painted a portrait of my sister, Colleen Lovett and her band leader husband, Teddy Phillips, who used to work at the Statler Hilton Hotel. Would love to locate their portrait also.
Char Lovett Sutherlin
Re: Demitri Vail
November 17, 2004 10:44AM
How could we find out where all of his works are now?I have tried to call the Music Hall noone answers.I love his works I saw as a child,when my mother would take me to the musicals. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.Thanks,
Noone knows!
November 29, 2004 01:38PM
Does anyone know if his wife is still alive or not?I got a response from UTD,Beverly Carter,and they do not have any of his works at all.She said that his wife was the executrix of his estate,why is it NOONE knows where his stuff is?Even on Google his name comes up but nothing of his works.I will find out where they are.It has become a quest.Please let me know. Thanks,
Re: Noone knows!
November 29, 2004 02:09PM
If Mr. Vail deceased in Dallas County, you could start searching their archives for his Probate Filings.
Re: Noone knows!
November 29, 2004 04:48PM
There was an Italian Restaurant, can't remember the name, down Greenville near Belmont, sort of across from the Athens Strip, that had several portraits by Vail hanging in various areas. Anyone remember the name of that place, and is it still there?
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