Artist Profile: Dallas Primavera

Janie Day

Dallas Primavera’s artistic evolution began when he was in elementary school. His principal created a program allowing one person from each grade to receive art lessons for two hours every Friday afternoon. Primavera was chosen and participated throughout the third, fourth and fifth grades. He recalls that this was the first time he was ever rewarded for his actions.

During his sophomore year in high school, he worked in telemarketing recruiting people for taste tests. He was very good at his job, so he would finish his work at the beginning of his shift and then draw for the rest of it, handing in a successful recruit every 45 minutes or so.

His mom noticed his drawings and gave him a photograph of a house, asking him if he could draw it. Two days later, Primavera gave her the finished drawing, and she handed him a $400 check. The drawing had been for a friend of hers—a realtor who gave homebuyers a sketch of the house they bought. Once Primavera realized he could make money from his art, he quit his minimum wage job to draw houses for the rest of his high school years. “It was easy for me,” he said. “It was the only thing I’ve ever done in my life that came easy.”

Primavera went on to study art in college, including a stint at Florida State University and the University of Valencia in Spain—a graduation present from his grandmother. While in Spain, he fell in love with a Swedish girl and stayed in Europe for three years, painting and traveling with her—an experience that changed his life. After college, he worked as a bartender for 25 years until COVID-19 arrived, shuttering bars and restaurants. Finding himself unemployed, Primavera had time to truly concentrate on his art. It wasn’t long before he received so many commissions for work he officially quit bartending. Since then, he said, his artistic career has “branched out like a beautiful elm tree.”

He finds comfort painting at his home studio at night, when the world is asleep, especially his 5-year-old son who likes to sneak in while he’s working. Primavera’s paintings are inspired by what happens in his daily life. When he was finishing one painting, for example, he learned his wife was pregnant, so he added a stork into the scene. “Everything has a story,” he said. “All my paintings are almost like journal entries of my mind.” In fact, on the back of each piece, he writes journal entries and/or poetry that represent where he was in his life at the time he painted it.

One truly unique part of Primavera’s art is the color-coded system he created. On the front of each of his paintings is a key with 26 colored dots that each represent a letter in the alphabet. Throughout each piece are strings of these colored dots—a coded message for the observer to decipher and contemplate. Primavera created this system with the hope of encouraging people to think more in a world where he feels people don’t think enough anymore.

Primavera recently finished three seasons of art shows, showcasing and selling his art throughout the state and is settling down for the summer to paint his commission pieces.