Show Preview | Dean Mitchell

Scottsdale, AZ
Legacy Gallery, February 23-March 5

Dean Mitchell, Maricopa County House, watercolor, 20 x 30.

Dean Mitchell, Maricopa County House, watercolor, 20 x 30.

This story was featured in the February 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  February 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Dean Mitchell is known for his landscapes, architectural paintings, and figurative works. Not for sprawling western landscapes or indigenous peoples of the West but for the tobacco farms and city streets of the South. This month, however, Legacy Gallery hosts a solo show for Mitchell that, while including those images of the South, showcases new breadth and subject matter for the artist. Opening on Thursday, February 23, with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m., the show features 30 works in a variety of media—oils and acrylics as well as the watercolors for which he’s long been known. Gallery owner Brad Richardson says, “Dean is new to the gallery, but I have been aware of his work for years. His voice is different and doesn’t overlap other artists we represent. We’re thrilled to add him to Legacy Gallery.”

“I have never done a solo show out West,” Mitchell says. “This is my chance to show a variety of subject matter and approaches to what I do.” While collectors familiar with his work will find scenes from the East Coast and New Orleans, a significant portion of this show portrays western scenes, something that hasn’t come easily to the artist. He explains, “When I pick subject matter, it has a lot to do with history. I look for subject matter that has real substance. I lean toward things I relate to in some way.” When he was first invited to participate in western shows, he struggled. “I kept trying to find what appealed to me as a painter,” he says. It was friend and fellow artist Michael Swearngin who, during this search, loaded Mitchell into his truck and took him to a reservation near Phoenix, AZ. “I was just baffled by the poverty and the structures,” Mitchell says of that first visit. “I said, ‘This reminds me of how I grew up in Quincy, FL. I will paint this.’”

While many artists portray the landscape and people of the West in centuries past, Mitchell’s work depicting the reservation represents the contemporary West that he identifies with. “This is something that is more real to me.” The work is not a political statement, he adds. “These works are about the human condition.”

The western landscape also presented a challenge for Mitchell. “The landscape is so vast,” he says, “yet there is an underlying raw nature coming through that isn’t always portrayed. A nature that is not always nice or gentle. This is a whole new area of landscape that I am exploring.” Eschewing romanticized representation, he says that “in order to get real substance, you have to dig deeper into [the scene], uncovering and finding the subtleties, all the flaws, the real stuff.”

Richardson says that what Mitchell conveys in his work “is realism, not a glamorized or romanticized image. And he’s such a good artist that he can take that subject matter and make a great painting out of it.”

Of the works in this show, and his work in general, Mitchell says, “I want to be honest, and if I bring my true, honest voice, that is going to carry the work. It is all I have to offer.” —Laura Rintala

contact information
480.945.1113
www.legacygallery.com

This story was featured in the February 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  February 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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