Dean L. Mitchell

Artist Biography

Deemed “one of the unsung masters of American art” by Lowery Stokes Sims, former director and president of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Dean Mitchell was born in Pittsburgh, raised in rural Quincy, Florida, and is best known for his realist landscapes, figurative works, and still lifes. He attended the Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio and then moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he illustrated Hallmark greeting cards. He began entering and winning painting competitions, thus establishing his professional reputation.

Mitchell has received over 400 awards, often at watercolor society exhibitions throughout the United States. Among his accolades are gold and silver medals at the American Watercolor Society, first prize from the T. H. Saunders International Artists in Watercolor Competition in England, the Thomas Moran Award from the Salmagundi Club, one of five finalists in the $250,000 Hubbard Award for Excellence, Ruidoso, New Mexico (1992), the $50,000 Grand Prize for the Arts in the Parks competition (1999), the Wells Fargo Two-Dimensional Award at the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale, and an eight-time winner of the Autry Museum Award for Watercolor at the Masters of the American West. In 1995, the U. S. Postal Service commissioned him to do a series of Jazz stamps. He is a member of professional societies such as the American Watercolor Society and the National Watercolor Society.

Further, he was among the notable Black artists considered by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama when commissioning the presidential portraits. Major news publications have compared his work to Andrew Wyeth (1917–2009) and Edward Hopper (1882–1967), and Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times commented, “Mr. Mitchell is a virtual modern-day Vermeer of ordinary black people given dignity through the eloquence of his concentration and touch.”

In 2017 he founded his own gallery, Marie Brooks Gallery, in Quincy, Florida, across the street from where his grandmother (the gallery namesake and person who inspired him to become an artist) bought him his first paint-by-number set at age 5.

He has had solo exhibitions at the Daytona Museum of Arts & Sciences, the Canton Museum of Art, the Leepa Rattner Museum of Art, the Cornell Museum at Old School Square, the Greater Denton Arts Council, the Art Gallery at University of West Florida, the Mississippi Museum of Art, the American Jazz Museum, and the Gadsden Art Center & Museum, and participated in numerous invitationals. His work is included in many museum collections, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Library of Congress, the Arkansas Art Center, the Rockwell Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum, Gadsden Art Center & Museum, and the Canton Museum of Art, among others.

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