Denny Carmen: Inspired By Art

by Kendrick Fey

After spending many years as a volunteer, Denny Carman had built up a reputation as someone who has significantly grown the local art community. Denny’s passion has always been to help children, the disabled, and veterans through an inclusive and supportive art program. Denny has since established the Chrysalis Gallery in Spokane which allows local artists to get their art out to the public free of charge and help grow their artwork simultaneously. For Denny, the prize has never been the profit his art and the gallery may bring, but being able to help those in need with a passion for art.

Denny Carman worked as a journeyman plumber for 32 years before an injury medically retired him. Back in 2006, Denny had fallen off a scissor lift injuring his spine. He was told that his plumbing career was over, and he would need to be put on pain meds for the rest of his life. This accident sadly sent Denny into a state of depression. Depression had grabbed hold of Denny for many years until his son introduced art into his life. Denny’s son was an artist who took the time to teach his father about art and how to paint. These skills Denny had learned from his son were able to lift him out of depression as he had found a newborn passion. With being out of work, Denny started to paint frequently to stay busy. After some time, Denny decided to go to the Liberty Building Gala and display some of his artwork in a local show. It took no time at all before some of his paintings were sold and his passion took off. With the help of his wife, Denny spent the next few months weaning himself off pain meds and fully immersing himself in the local art community. 

Denny Carmen

Denny would go on volunteering in the art community for the next 16 years. Over those years, Denny spent most of his time putting together venues for art shows, worked with many children in elementary schools, helped veterans discover new passions, and posted local artwork all around our community. Denny became known as someone who can inspire confidence in unknown artists. His passion and an undeniable drive to better our community inspired those around him to not only better themselves as artists, but to also inspire others the same way Denny was able to inspire them. Artists in the local community often reach out to other unknown artists and people in need and tell them to “go see Denny, he can help you” (Denny Carman). 

Not even Covid could keep Denny from doing what he loves. During a time when people could not come face-to-face, Denny sought to find ways around this and continue the work he does in our community. Denny started by organizing virtual classes at elementary schools such as West View Elementary. Here he facilitated teaching children all the fundamentals of painting and artwork. The virtual classes had become such a success with the kids that when the face-to-face ban had been lifted, schools lined up at the opportunity to have Denny come in and speak with the children. On top of the virtual classes, Denny got together with a few colleagues and created “Art on the Go”. This was an art show where people could set up their artwork across their yards and houses to display their work and have people drive by to view what they have created. In the first year, 60 people had signed up for the event. It had such success that the following year over 100 people signed up for the art show and sales of the artwork had heavily increased. 

After many years of volunteer work, Denny and his wife decided that they wanted to take things one step further. The two of them had moved from their previous house and into a new 3-floor house where the first floor acts as an art gallery for anyone wanting to display their artwork. Denny and his wife had the idea of living in a gallery for many years, however, it wasn’t until October of 2022 that their dream came to reality. The entirety of the first floor has now been converted into an art gallery where local artists can hang up and display their work for the rest of the community to admire and possibly buy. Denny had eventually found a co-owner for the Chrysalis Gallery in a woman named Dallas Jade (Dj) Graves. Dj received two BA degrees from Eastern Washington University, in philosophy, psychology, and religious studies, as well as a hands-on internship at the EWU Gallery of Art. Dj acts as the Exhibition Manager, and curates and displays art throughout the gallery in a professional manner. On top of this, Dj is heavily involved with Denny in all the community work. Both are constantly striving to find new ways to include more and more local artists in events and help the art community grow. 

Both Denny and Dj undoubtedly believe that “art is for everyone” (Denny Carman). When Denny opened the Chrysalis Gallery, he had many goals that he wanted to achieve for both the community and his gallery. These goals include becoming a non-profit organization, setting up a donation ring so that schools can receive all the art supplies they could possibly need for their students, and setting up specific art shows for wounded veterans and recovering addicts. If anything could be made clear to the public, Denny would like everyone to know, “If you want help, we’re here for you” (Denny Carman). If anyone may find themselves interested in displaying their work in the gallery or any of the community events Denny puts on, you can talk with Dj by going to and applying. It’s as simple as that. If anyone finds themselves needing any type of help regardless of art, you can contact Denny by phone number which can be found on the same website or even the Chrysalis Gallery Facebook page.