Dean’s creative talents started young as did his interest in the environment. He attended The College of Idaho with the desire to study Forestry via the Biology department. While his place on the Ski Team satisfied his extracurricular interests, he was still searching for his calling on a professional level. Eventually Dean was lured away from the Biology department and into the Art department by way of hot glass. This fascination soon started a hunger for what he had been missing since his youth, an immersion into the exploration and development of his creative side. Upon receiving his degree in Art in 1990, he moved to Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho where he continued working in glass at a local studio.
It wasn’t until 1997, that Dean decided to return to California to pursue glassblowing as a full-time career. His work began with his Redwood Tree Series, which was featured at the Oakland Museum of California. His work has evolved over the years, and his first solo show, Nature’s Footprints, was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle. He has also dedicated a great deal of volunteer time to the glass arts and to teaching. He started teaching at places such as, San Jose State University and Palo Alto High School, Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI), and Public Glass. He has attended Pilchuck Glass School in Washington on scholarship, and was a teaching assistant at Corning in New York. Dean’s work has been juried into numerous museum exhibitions, such as the San Francisco Airport Museums, San Luis Obispo Museum, Alexandria Museum of Art (Louisiana), Oakland Museum of California, and the Oakland Airport Museum. He has also worked on a team creating several projects for renowned artist Dale Chihuly, including an enormous chandelier in Dubai. In 2017 Dean was an Artist in Residence at Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, where he had an exhibition, “Intertwined”, showcasing his collaborative work with Demetra Theofanous. Dean’s work is recognized nationally, and is held in many private collections, as well as in the permanent collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.
His redwood trees, created in both clear glass and in color, marked the beginning of his signature body of work. Focusing initially on environmental concerns, his concepts have continued to grow and evolve. More recently, Dean’s work goes further, in investigating the life cycles in nature, their significance, and the interplay between the earth and various species. His murrine pieces are the centerpoint of this series. Each slice of murrine serves to highlight one of nature’s footprints, marking the passage of time and a glimpse of history; the rings of life in a felled tree.
Over time, what was once a simple love of nature, has now matured into an idea that has a story to be told. His work is about an appreciation for life, the journey, and the stories it holds within.