I periodically update my Artist’s Statement and Bio to reflect what I am working on. I just made some changes yesterday, so this is the perfect time for me to reintroduce myself!
Artist’s Statement – I have a holistic approach to art, seeing no distinction between high and low, or between sacred and secular. My influences range from Jack Kirby and Filmation Studios to Andy Warhol and Fra Angelico. Whatever is bold and exciting catches my eye. Using acrylic paint or cutout and collage, I manufacture pure pop pleasure. I continue to feel the pull of a childhood devoted in equal parts to the Bible and Marvel Comics.
Bio – Dean Johnson developed his pop art brand at Columbia College Chicago, where he studied under Corey Postiglione, Carol Halliday-McQueen, and Louise LeBourgeois. For over 10 years he served and inspired his community by organizing group art shows, workshops, and a neighborhood art walk. Dean’s work has appeared in the Alumni on 5 exhibit and at Navy Pier. Dean’s commissions include numerous portrait paintings, as well as postcard designs and corporate logos.
Lead Organizer for Art on Ashland, the East Village Art Walk, in 2015
Board Member for ChiPRC, the Chicago Publishers Resource Center
Led over 20 art workshops over 2 years; partnered with 5 organizations
Was named Top-Rated Teacher by Dabble for art workshops
Lead Organizer for NIA (Northside Independent Artists) for 3 years
Curated 3 group shows, working with 5 other artists
Most successful show, Chicago Art, sold 65 pieces
Participated in 11 exhibits, including Catholic Charities Gala of the Arts
Designed original logos for companies Athletic Souls and The Souls Journey
Illustrated John Wawrzaszek’s book, Field Manual: Human Body
Generated promo images for CAKE fundraisers, 2012 and 2013
Founding member of Third Thursday Club, which offered monthly figure drawing
Designed postcards for theater companies including TUTA
Designed flyers for rock band Arch Visceral Parlor and DJ Elle Madelyn
The title of my post, The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, might be confusing at first. A little Dada prank, you might assume. When you consider the fact that octopi can regenerate lost limbs, then the self-eating octopus becomes a potent metaphor.
She is the creator who grows strong branches only to prune herself back and start over. I can relate to the octopus, as I have reinvented myself and my art style many times. I had no idea Takashi Murakami had done the same thing until he chose to title his MCA exhibit after the resilient cephalopod.
I was very familiar with Murakami’s kawaii-inspired pop art, but I had no idea he explored several other art styles before developing his current brand. The exhibit takes the viewer through these styles in chronological order. There is no apparent connection between one style and the next. Once the octopus has cast off an arm, he seems to disavow any ownership of it.
It is important to start at the beginning of Murakami’s oeuvre, because each successive room is more impressive than the last. By the time I reached the final rooms, I was saying to myself, “I can’t believe this!” It was literally the most impressive art show I have ever seen.
Do yourself a favor and see this exhibit before it closes on September 24. It has my highest recommendation ever!
My latest commission is a cutout collage that will hang in a family cabin in St. Germaine, Wisconsin, which is a city featured on the map I used. The clients asked me to include certain important details, such as their love of bears, their cabin’s location on Bear Run Rd., and the legacy of two grandfathers. I recreated one grandfather’s CPD badge and the other grandfather’s Board of Trade badge.
If you have ideas for your own cutout collage, please comment on this post or e-mail me at email@example.com. They make excellent gifts and meaningful ways to represent your memories!