‘Cousin Dan’ is a sculptor, musician, performance artist and dad

Photography by Yuvie Styles.

To Atlanta residents, this Lake Highlands High School graduate and L Streets resident is well known as “Cousin Dan.”

Here in Lake Highlands, if you’ve heard the name Daniel Scoggins, it’s probably in association with his public art sculpture.

Several years ago, we heard that an artist was donating a full-scale Pegasus assembled from scrap metal and new steel from junkyards and estate sales to the Lake Highlands Public Improvement District.

Scoggins is that artist. At the time, he was living in Georgia, where he had moved to attend Savannah College of Art and Design. He applied for a grant from a non-profit organization called Dashboard to get money for a public art sculpture in Texas.

Dashboard gave Scoggins $20,000 for Pegasus, the highest amount they give to an artist each year.

“They do a terrific job,” Scoggins says. “After I get the grant, it’s up to me to find her a home.”

So he started talking with his mom and sister and other people here in Dallas who could potentially help.

“And that’s when I was introduced to Kathy Stewart,” Scoggins explains. At the time, Stewart, a neighborhood resident, oversaw the Lake Highlands Public Improvement District; now she oversees Uptown, Inc., and Vicky Taylor manages the LH PID.

“They were doing signage on the trestle right behind the high school football stadium. They were going to do landscape elements,” explains Scoggins.

“Their landscape architect got wind of my sculpture, someone faked a little model, and it had to be approved by the school district. RISD approved it. I found out about this while reading the lawyer.”

Since that approval in August 2021, Pegasus has been sitting in an east Dallas store owned by one of Scoggins’ pals, awaiting installation. Scoggins isn’t complaining. He knows that everyone has a lot to do. (the lawyer has contacted PID and the City about timing or a facility, but at the time of publication we had not received a response.)

Pegasus has already made the trip from Atlanta, where Dan created it at a place called South River Studios. The owner of this space, Phil Proctor, a longtime public artist, metalworker and sculptor, had turned his complex into an artists’ studio collective, Scoggins says.

After graduating from high school, he strayed from the visual arts path for about a decade, adopting the “Cousin Dan” alter ego – musician, performance artist, a bit of a comedian. His cousin Kristin, who is a year older, calls him Cousin Dan. And “it sounds good,” he says.

“By the time I was done with art school, I was kind of done with that scene — it just seemed pretentious, and it bored me,” he says. “I had a little

some money for graduation and i bought a beat machine and just started making music and doing some open mics and making silly internet videos.

This led to the opening of a friend’s band.

“My act started to develop and then the musical aspects took off for me. I was able to make a living doing that.

The artistic training gave him an advantage.

“Because I had the visual aesthetic stuff,” he says. “The musical side of being a musician, I was going to shows, and I was bored, so I tried to make it the show I wanted to go to, and it turned out that other people would like to see it like that.

“There is an ironic aspect. He walks a tightrope on the line, as far as funny. Like it’s funny, and it’s also pretty good.

He does not just play the role of the musician. He took classical guitar lessons with Clair Greer in our neighborhood, he says. And some of his early lessons were also given by Zach Galindo, who now runs the Lake Highlands School of Music.

With some encouragement, Scoggins speaks plainly about his high school metal band.

“It was called something like Awake (said in a melodramatic voice),” he says. “It was my only other stage experience. I love it.”

The live show died when the pandemic hit. But it allowed him to continue the Pegasus project.

“I think the Lord works in mysterious ways.”

He also resumed painting and some wall work. He’s putting his portfolio together so maybe he can do some industrial or interior art for clients.

“I would like to get back into the visual arts. It’s a bit more financially viable than trying to be a famous musician.

And he needs the money, because he married his love, Victoria, and moved back to Lake Highlands where they are raising the new baby, June, named after Victoria’s grandmother.

Additionally, in a wrong place/wrong time case in 2012, Scoggins caught a bullet outside an Atlanta nightclub, after which he posted a stretcher/ambulance selfie with the caption, ” I just got shot, y’all.”

We learned that by reading an old Huffington Post item. Cousin Dan didn’t mention it in his interview. Responding to a follow-up question, he said, “Oh, yeah. I definitely got shot.

Search Cousin Dan on Music-streaming platforms.

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