Dean's Place

Loucks Opens Gallery for Experimental Works that Inspire

Dean Loucks' approach to art involves what he calls "The Art of Removal" — stripping away layers of paint he piles on a composite board in order to create a unique sense of depth — but for the 47-year-old artist's career, layers of success keep stacking up.

"What I do is custom artwork on many different vehicles," he says. "Then I have the gallery here, which is my fine artwork. Furniture, paintings, custom painted toasters, pedal cars, pedal airplanes."

Loucks uses a variety of materials in his art. Water-colors, charcoal, chalk, acrylic paint, even automotive paint, razor blades, a full-size paint gun and airbrushes are all tools Loucks utilizes.

"It's an ongoing process of my art since I was very small," he says. "They say I could draw before I could spell."

If automotive paint seems to stick out on a list of materials used for fine art, it's because Loucks' draws a lot of his experiences from working with custom vehicles. He has made a big name for himself doing custom designs on luxury powerboats, helicopters and motor coaches, among other things.

"What started that was putting the artwork on the vehicles made me want to have a bigger canvas," Loucks says. "When I lived in California, I went out to a gallery in Venice Beach and it had 10-foot-tall paintings of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and Johnny Cash in black-and-white; (Cash's) hat looked photorealistic. The size and the scale was intriguing."

Loucks started small, with helmets, cars and trailers, eventually working up to offshore boats and motor homes.

"Even if it's just stripes you're putting on," he says, "you're using color, flakes, pearls and metallics in just a different way. Even a classy, sportier paint job without a mural, it's still a piece of art to me."

Loucks recently painted a boat for PUMA to race around the world, and he will be featured on Travel Channel as part of a program about the Top 10 travel coaches in the nation, two of which he painted.

"Gallery work is a bit more personal to me," he says. "It is what was in my head that day. It was what I wanted to paint."

A Goshen native, Loucks opened the gallery Dean's Place at 918 E. University Drive in Granger this year. It is a place that displays his more experimental works, such as custom-painted toasters or his newest piece, "The Art of Motoring Circa 1910," which makes use of 148-year-old barn wood and acid-sprayed copper.

"The paintings are changing from just a composite board with paint on it to copper," he says. "Acid washes with spray guns and paint guns to dribble it on, like painting on copper. I got a few projects pushing that envelope."

Even when not pushing the envelope with copper-washed art, the gallery features work that inspires. One of the biggest pieces that catches the eye is a custom Sauter piano, which was a main display at the 2010 New York Art Show.

For now, Loucks hopes visitors come and see what's on display, hopefully multiple times. It takes three visits, according to him, to get the full effect, and plans for the future may change up what is already there.

"Getting in here was the first thing, and it's going great, we're having fun with it," Loucks says. "So now, to take it to the next level, we've got lots of plans to surprise … but if I told you, well, everyone would know."

Video Interview

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