Piece by: Jeannette Louise Smith
Dean Russo, a pop artist whose colorful, stylized portraits of pit bulls and other dogs help to raise awareness for these animals.
“Pit Bulls are close to my heart for the obvious reason of being the most misunderstood breed in the dog universe,” says artist Dean Russo. “They may just be one of the smartest too.”
Raised in a family of woodworkers, Dean says, "We had a family business and made easels, sketch boxes, palettes, all wood products for the art industry. My home was always filled with art supplies. Coupled with the fact that my father and grandfather were both creative people designing products and building new ideas everyday," Dean says, "I was bound to be a creative."
With a background in graphic and fine arts, Dean, a member of the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition and the Brooklyn Arts Council, works in a variety of artistic mediums. "I used to paint mostly human portraits and did this from home for so many years with my dogs by my side. Till one day I thought, why not paint my two favorite subjects." Attributing his animal art inspiration to his two cocker spaniels, Montana and Valley, (both now passed), Dean then began working with various rescues to donate work and raise awareness.
"Meeting owners and workers in various shelters, I noticed a trend of Pit Bulls who were discarded, but as an artist saw something in them that clicked." To Dean, "They are one of the few dogs that although may all have similar body structure, they all have very different features. Blue eyes, red noses, brown eyes, black spots, brown spots, not very different from my work. They instantly became my favorite subject."
Brilliant colors. Unique patchwork, mesmerizing shapes, symbols, and design. Expressive eyes, ears, and faces create vibrant and compelling images. Dean portrays the beautiful and lively spirit of the American Pit Bull Terrier and other common "Bully Breeds" (wrongly named and classified as aggressive and dangerous) such as the Boxer, Boston Terrier, Bulldog, and Mastiff. Included in this group of misperceived canines, Dean dynamically captures the Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, Akita, and Rhodesian Ridgeback.
With or without a written message, Dean's innovative and inspiring talent and universal artistic statement is unmistakable, bestowing a new dimension and vision of the persecuted American Pit Bull Terrier: one of positive power. His art encourages us to: be smart – Choose Adoption; acknowledge the World-wide Failure of Breed Specific Legislation; combat Dog Fighting in the United States and the world.
"The only way something so cruel can exist is if some evil-minded person has the idea." Dean says of Breed Specific Legislation and Dog Fighting, "Our job is to make sure people and especially children know it's a crime that cannot be tolerated anywhere ever. When a child sees, hears, or acts upon my message, I feel successful. Anytime someone puts a message of love or respect towards people or animals into the universe it builds like a ripple. I hope I live long enough to see my ripples come back to me. That will make me smile."
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Artist: Dean Russo
Business: Dean Russo - Artist