Bio and Awards


James Dean paints realistic watercolors of the American scene - from the unchanging landscape of the New England coast, to the space launches in Florida, to the Shuttle landings in the California desert, to the churches of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

He is a graduate of B.M.C. Durfee High School in Fall River where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1989. He is a graduate of Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The Swain School is now part of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

He is the former Curator of Art at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air & Space Museum, and the former Director, Fine Art Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.

He resides in Washington, DC with his high school sweetheart, Rita.


James Dean's work is included in the 2008-2011 tour of the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit NASA | ART: 50 Years of Exploration

James Dean's work has been exhibited at the following locations:

National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
American Watercolor Society, New York, NY
Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
Foster Harmon Galleries of American Art, Sarasota, FL
Maurice Sternberg Galleries, Chicago, IL
National Academy of Design, New York, NY
U.S. Information Agency Foreign Tour
Cosmos Club, Washington, DC
Franz Bader Gallery, Washington, DC
George Washington University, Washington, DC
American Watercolor Society's National Traveling Exhibition
National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC


James Dean authored “NASA/ART: 50 Years of Exploration”, published by Abrams NY 2008.

Dean illustrated “LIFTOFF, Story of America's Adventure in Space” by Michael Collins, Grove Press, NY 1988 and 1989

Dean wrote "Journey Into Space" in Paul Calle - An Artist's Journey, Mill Pond Press, Venice, FL 1993

Dean co-authored Eyewitness To Space , published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., NY 1972.

He authored NASA 1958-1983 Remembered Images, published by NASA, 1983.

The following periodicals discussed Dean and his work:

    * "James Dean, Painting the Spirit of the Past" American Artist, March 1971
    * James Dean, Artist Virginia Cardinal, September 1973
    * "James Dean, Painter of the Past" Southern Living, June 1973
    * "The Duality of James Dean: Curator of Nation's Space Art and a Painter of Nostalgia Art" Voices South , July/August 1979
    * "Va. Artist Puts Stamp on Christmas" The Washington Post, December 5, 1985

  1. -American Austrian Society, Washington, DC
  2. -Art League, Alexandria, VA
  3. -James Dean designed two Christmas stamps for the U.S. Postal Service in 1985 and 1987.
  4. -His Space Shuttle paintingswere shown on NBC-TV News November 12, 1981 and on ABC-TV News June 25, 1982 and June 22, 1984. 
  5. -James Dean is listed in Who's Who in American Art.