Artist of the Week

Joel Dean

November 29, 2010

Joel Dean is an artist from Atlanta, Georgia.  He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009 and currently lives and works in Oakland, California.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I am mostly a painter, but I participate in other ways too.  I currently help to operate a small art project space in my attic called Important Projects.

When and where did your interest in art begin? I don’t recall a specific moment or event that sparked my interest. My parents are art school dropouts and were always pretty adamant that I spend my free time doing something creative. I drew a lot in school, enough to get in trouble. My stepmother kept a small studio in the house I grew up in. She was always very private about what she made, but I think her just maintaining an active studio space in the house may have sparked my interest in pursuing an art practice that went beyond my trapper-keeper.

How has living and working in your current city effected your art practice? I live in Oakland. But I have only been living here about a year. I think the thing that’s affecting my practice the most right now is not being in school and having to work a day job. I am away from the studio a lot more than I used to be, so I end up spending a lot more time thinking about art than I actually spend making it.  This has fueled some shifts in what I’m making, and it’s also lead to some attempts at writing about art or art related events. I have a shotgun review in issue 2.4 of Art Practical about a panel discussion that was part of Art Publishing Now.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? Check me out on the web at!

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Merchandising, poetry, the internet, the exhibitions/events at Important Projects, black and white documentation, monochromes, fashion, feng shui, belief systems, movies, and the art and exhibitions I see off and on the internet.

What do you want a viewer to walk away with from after seeing your work? I want the viewer to have some kind of an experience.


What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?  I just finished a feature length film. It’s called Slow Fade To Black and I was lucky enough to premiere it last Friday in Los Angeles at the first West Coast installment of BYOB.  I’ve got a show opening this Saturday (December 4th, 2010) at Monument 2! It’s a collaborative project with Jason Benson that addresses some of the overlapping issues we both deal with in our work.  I’m collaborating with Warp Weft Woof on an edition that I am really excited about. Hopefully, we’ll have it ready for a Spring 2011 release.  And I am just starting to make work for a show at a space out here in Oakland called Sight School. This will be my first solo project since graduating from SAIC, and I could not have asked for a more exciting venue!

What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you?  The last exhibition I saw in person that stuck with me was a show titled Re-imagine | Re-Build | Repeat by an artist named Kelly Lynn Jones. The show used the format of a “gallery exhibition” as a platform for collaboration and dialogue.  Each week Kelly worked towards a new interpretation of the space with a different artist or group of artists. It lasted just over a month and changed over time with a new opening at the conclusion of every week.  I actually only made it to two of the openings, so I missed a lot of the objects that were produced. But what I liked about the show was that the actual exhibition was articulated through a series of one-night events. The openings were short silent performances that highlighted the artist’s process as the actual “art” to be engaged with.

Favorite music?  For the past few years I have been really into Mariah Carey. She has such a positive sound. But I guess I’m pretty down with rap and R&B in general. I also like a lot of popular grunge and alternative. Current playlist favs are Nicki Minaj. Nirvana, Bush, Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo, Sebadoh, Pastor Troy, TLC, Gucci, Young Jeezy, The Cranberries, Young Money Crew, Sinead O’Conner. I’m also a huge fan of my dad’s music, my favorite project of his is a band called the The Pillowtexans. Check them out!

What were you like in high school?  I was an easier going, more reckless, more athletic version of myself today.

What are your plans for the next year?  I want to collaborate more.

What are you really excited about right now?  I’m really excited about the postcard Jason and I made for our show at Monument 2! If anyone reading this wants one, just message me your mailing address and I will mail you one! (while supplies last)