Cleveland Dave

Cleveland Dean

United States

Installation, Sculpture, Conceptual Art, Drip Painting

Cleveland Dean
Cleveland Dean
United States
July 18, 2015

Cleveland Dean is a Chicago-based multi-disciplinary artist, interested in human psychology, social media and self-reliance. Also known as Jackson Pollock of Chicago, Dean’s body of work includes black on black abstract expressionist paintings, drip paintings and a range of sculptures and installation works.

Cleveland went to Illinois State University after he finished high school but had to put things on hold, as he became a father of two children. Later he attended Harrington College of Design and took a drawing class as his love for the arts invigorated. Today, Cleveland’s work is his response to complex psychological topics manifested in abstract and conceptual ways, based on his studies of philosophy, sociology and psychology.

Cleveland Dean - Undeniable
Cleveland Dean – Undeniable

Cleveland Dean: Style and Practice

Working in various mediums, such as painting, mixed media, installation, video, sculpture and photography, self-taught artist Cleveland Dean creates artworks that explore social and psychological based issues of modern society. Digging into the realm of self-reliance, he investigates human behavior in abstract, contemporary paintings that are dense with thick textures of poured paint and lacquers, scorched and burnt from repeated applications of a heat gun, and above all layered with collage elements. Dean’s unique paintings can be grouped into two bodies of work – the darker pigmented, burned paintings, and brightly colored paintings of poured paint, filled with swirls and waves of bright greens, reds, and yellows.

“My goal is to simply recondition people to think, adhere to knowledge and broaden their experience. In our society of the now, we are inundated with so much information that it makes it virtually impossible to pay attention to and gain expertise in any of it” – Cleveland Dean

In 2011 Cleveland started a philanthropic cooperation with the Union League Club of Chicago’s Boys and Girls Club. Next year he rebranded the existing program (artist Matt Lamb for Umbrellas for Peace) and gave it the name Know Peace. In this project, artist is a mentor, speaker and art instructor coordinating materials, events and fundraising efforts. All of that is done with the help of volunteers. The Know Peace mission promotes peace and unity all throughout degrading neighborhoods. Cleveland’s motivation is simple- he was one of those kids.
The ideology that powers Cleveland Dean is to evoke individual thought for the observer, pushing away imposed and conditioned thoughts, opinions and behaviors. Dean’s art reflects his attitude – quiet and impressive, suggesting chaotic inner worlds.


The Self Project, or #theselfproject, represents the artist’s ongoing interest in social media, concept of identity, and a modern day phenomenon – the selfie. The idea that lies behind the project is to show that people in diverse locations, of different races, and different material statuses all have similar thoughts and can be related to each other.

Cleveland Dean - The Self Project, social media, instagram, selfie, #theselfproject
Cleveland Dean – The Self Project

For this project, Cleveland Dean made several full body mirrors that carry various self-reflecting statements etched out of the paint, silver and copper. These universal phrases are intended to initiate introspective questions for the viewer standing in front of the mirror. This experience is then documented by one taking a selfie. Dean’s intention is to make people share their taken photos by using the hashtag #theselfproject. With a help of this hashtag, the artist can have a complete look into all of the images, and order and group them by the particular phrase on each of the individual mirrors.

Apotheosis with Spencer Hutchinson

Currently showing at the Matthew Rachman Gallery, Cleveland Dean’s latest works are featured in a duo exhibition titled Apotheosis, along with Spencer Hutchinson. Apotheosis will run until September 6th, showing artworks filled with coded language, created through the use of materials and techniques of varied cultural significance.

Exhibited works of Cleveland Dean are created using technique named Shou Sugi Ban – a Japanese technique of burning wood to preserve the wooden structure. In his ongoing series of paintings done with this technique, Cleveland reveals personal turmoil, the awareness of the need for improvement and the layers which one needs to shed in order to be their better self. Other materials that compose Apotheosis paintings include metal, salt, rope, and paper, all having a meaning that relates to the ideal of the series.

Apotheosis at Matthew Rachman Gallery

Cleveland Dave - Apotheosis with Spencer Hutchinson, 2015
Cleveland Dave – Apotheosis with Spencer Hutchinson, 2015

Works of Cleveland Dean are in collections of both nationally and internationally art institutions, and has been exhibited in conjunction with Leo Burnett, Puma, Red Bull, Toyota, Dick Blick and the Union League Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago. He has more than 400 diverse shows and exhibitions under his belt. This multi-disciplined, self-taught artist has proved he does not fit into a single box.

This artist is represented by Matthew Rachman Gallery.

Dean Cleveland lives and works in Chicago, IL.

All images courtesy of Matthew Rachman Gallery and the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Only in the Palace of God and MenUnion League Club of Chicago’s Boys and Girls Club.Solo
2016Another Door Opens Architectural Artifacts, Inc.Group
2015Somewhere There's Music Governors State University, University Park, IL [group}Solo
2015ApotheosisMatthew Rachman Gallery - ChicagoDuo
2015In Search of Sanity and All Things Realted nnGovernors State University, University Park, IL [solo]Solo
2014Away With This Inverted WorldBridgeport Arts Center, Chicago, ILGroup
2014Burnt Cherry BlossomsGallery 914, Chicago, ILSolo
201378LbOffices of Leo Burnett for Leo Burnett Anniversary, Chicago, ILGroup
2012Flying House 2012Maes Studio, Chicago,ILGroup
2012Yielding to commerceGallery 220, Chicago, ILGroup
2012I Shall Be ReleasedUnion Street Gallery, Chicago Heights, ILGroup
2011Paint, Pigment and KnivesGallery 220, Chicago,ILGroup
2011Here and NowWebster Wine Bar, Chicago, ILSolo
2011In This WorldThe Bluebird, Chicago,ILSolo
2011Minority Art: Inspiration, ObligationGovernors State University, University Park, ILGroup
2011Regard*Resist*ReactGovernors State University, University Park, ILGroup
2011I heard he’s an AssholeSENstudio studio project pop up gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2011Pieces from the Lost in the World seriesPrudential Building, Chicago ,ILGroup
2010ViceCreative Lounge, Toyota, Chicago, ILGroup
2010Group ShowPrudential Building, Chicago, ILGroup
2010Principles in MotionUniv. of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2010Cleveland DeanGovernors State University, Olympia Fields, ILSolo
2010Salon 1Prak-sis, Chicago, ILSolo
2010Nowhere From HereFR works on Paper Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2010Sonic StrataPrak-sis, Chicago, ILSolo
2009Sticks and StonesNortheastern Illinois University, Chicago, ILGroup
2009Spirituality in artMurphy Hill Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2009We AreZhou B Art Center, Chicago, ILGroup
2009Black, White, AbstractRiver East Art Center, Chicago, ILDuo
2009Celebration 2009Prospectus Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2009Tube Series: We AreChicago Art Department, Chicago, ILGroup
2008Chicago Artist Coalition Art OpenChicago, ILGroup
2008UnlearnPhaiz Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2008Interpretable ChaosFlatfile Gallery, Chicago, IlSolo
2008Look GalleryMacy’s on State Street, Chicago, ILSolo
2008Cleveland DeanWebster Wine Bar, Chicago, ILSolo
2007Winter Arts FestivalChicago, ILSolo
2007Group ShowQ4 Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2007Resolution Save Darfur BenefitLas Manos Gallery Chicago, ILGroup
2007Interpretable Chaos v.1Gallery of the Hot House, Chicago, ILSolo
2007Humboldt Park Art FairChicago, ILGroup
2007PUMA - Guillermo Vilas tributeAll Rise Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2007Group ShowQ4 Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2007Group ShowTzeta Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2007Around the CoyoteThe Silver Room, Chicago, ILSolo
2007Around the CoyoteMarshall McGearty, Chicago, ILGroup
2007Art blowoutGary Comer Youth Center, Chicago, ILGroup
2006Collective Reasoning v.2Chicago, ILSolo
2006CoreNET Silent AuctionChicago, ILGroup
2006Cleveland DeanEspia, Espacino Imagen Alternativa, Mexico City, MexicoSolo
2006Group ShowEspacio El Galeron, Mexico City, MexicoGroup
2006Around the CoyoteMeble, Chicago, ILGroup
2005Collective Reasoning v.1Chicago, ILSolo