For over 30 years, the Huntsville Museum of Art has presented a noteworthy series of solo exhibitions highlighting regional contemporary artists. These Encounters exhibitions afford viewers an opportunity to see how creative inspiration combines with subject and materials to convey a unique artistic expression. Throughout the years, the Encounters series has developed a strong critical reputation in the Southeast. The upcoming installment of the series focuses on the works of the master watercolorist, Dean Mitchell.
Mitchell was born in Pittsburgh and reared in the small town of Quincy in the Florida Panhandle. Artistically proficient from a young age, Mitchell bought his first set of oils when he was twelve. By the time he was accepted into the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio, he was already an accomplished artist. After graduating in 1980, Mitchell moved to Kansas City to start working as an illustrator at Hallmark Cards. He remained at Hallmark for the next three years, before deciding to pursue painting as a full-time career.
The master artist engages with Black Identity by drawing his subjects mainly from African American culture. Of his preferred subject matter, he notes, “Artists are observers of life, and it is natural that I would first gravitate to the space which I occupy. The neighborhoods I was raised in were segregated. Most of my teachers were Black. Churches I attended were Black, so it is natural for me as an artist to create works that reflect my own personal experience.”
His engaging works encompass portraits, landscapes and still lifes in the time-honored realist tradition. In addition to watercolor, Mitchell is accomplished in other media including egg tempera, oil and pastel. His reputation hinges largely on his superb craftsmanship, the emotional depth of his work, his avoidance of facile sentimentality, and his skilled sense of formal design.
Mitchell has received more than 500 awards, including First Prize from the T. H. Saunders International Artists in Watercolor Society’s Gold and Silver Medals; Allied Artists of America’s Gold Medal in Watercolor and Oil; and the Thomas Moran Award from the Salmagundi Club in New York. His works can be found in public collections across the country, including the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the St. Louis Museum of Art, and the Huntsville Museum of Art. He was also HMA’s Gala featured artist in 2015.
Encounters: Dean Mitchell opens in the Grisham gallery of the Huntsville Museum of Art on December 12, 2021, and will be on display until March 20, 2022. Viewing of exhibition will be included with general admission, which can be purchased a the front desk in the lobby or online here. Shortly before the exhibition closes, Mitchell will visit the Museum to give a presentation. The Artist Talk and Reception will take place on March 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. Member and Non-Member tickets are available online here.