Gallery Artists > Dean Mitchell Biography :

Dean Mitchell (b. 1957)  Artworks >>

An award-winning painter of figures depicting black middle and lower class people and landscapes from his southern background and other personal experiences, Dean Mitchell is inspired by grizzled laborers, time-worn elderly faces, and persons like himself who have lived in a segregated environment. His career hit an upswing 2002 when art critic Michael Kimmelman wrote in The New York Times that Mitchell was 'a virtual modern-day Vermeer'. Dean Mitchell was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but grew up in Quincy, Florida, a tobacco growing town. His mother, Hazel, was unmarried and worked as a dietician, and he was basically raised by his grandmother who encouraged his art talent and who bought him paints from the time he was a child. Although his mother was hesitant about supporting his talent at first, she has become "his biggest fan". (Targos) He got his formal art training at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio, and then worked as an illustrator in Kansas City for Hallmark Cards but quit to get back to "real art." Returning to his home town, he was encouraged and supported by Joan Dickenson, who helped him with gallery representation, which in those days was difficult for Black-Americans. For awhile he was sustained by an Hungarian gallery owner in Florida, Zoltan Bush, and his wife Vicki, and he also spent much time alone, dedicating himself to his painting. He also decided to side-step galleries to see if he could recognition in competitive exhibitions. In 1990, Dean Mitchell began to win competitions, first being the only recognized black artist in the Hubbard exhibit in Ruidoso, New Mexico. In 1997, he won eleven major national awards, and in 1999, he won the grand prize for Arts for the Parks juried competition with his painting "French Quarter Coachman". That same year he won the gold medal in the Annual International Exhibition of the American Watercolor Society. He also became close friends with the opera singer, Kathleen Battle, and toured Paris with her. With those achievements, Dean Mitchell got many offers for gallery representation and also for having his work copied in limited editions prints. He works on 20 to 30 paintings at once and uses both sketches and photographs. One of his working mottos came from a gallery owner who told him: "paint from your heart and don't listen to critics." Mitchells responds that "Every painting with spirit finds a home" (Targos) Reference:

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