Artist Profile: Dean Millien’s Foiled Fun at Con Artist

Posted on: March 19th, 2012 at 10:28 am by

We all had that friend in junior high who, after eating lunch, would fashion the aluminum foil wrappers into random objects. Being boys, that inevitably devolved into some sort of phallic shape followed by a timely wise-crack. For some it’s deemed a passing phase, but for others, a serious form of artistic expression. As to the latter, look no further than 157 Suffolk Street.

They call him the “Tin Man,” but we sure as shit ain’t in Oz. This guy is the real deal, and with heart. His name is Dean Millien, a unique local artist with a penchant for folding foil. The Con Artist workshop on the Lower East Side acts as somewhat of a second home for his craft, which is often placed around the gallery space for effect. Beginning Wednesday night, however, his handmade metallic sculptures will take center stage at the new above-ground Suffolk Street location with “Curses, Foiled Again.”

When we arrive at Con Artist, the place is in utter shambles, as any creative workspace should be.  With “Curses, Foiled Again” just a few days away, metallic sundries are strewn everywhere. We meet Millien at one of the desks littered with balled-up foil and crafted headware, the sounds of Prohibition-era Jazz wafting over the airwaves. Back in the corner, meanwhile, a scantily clad model poses for photos donning each of his one-of-a-kind creations – antlers, top-hats, jester hats, Mickey Mouse ears, etc. We want to learn more…

As it happens, a familiar childhood nightmare became the proverbial spark which ignited Millien’s fiery passion to sculpt. He tells us candidly that his most cherished toys (Bert and Ernie) were trashed at a young age, and how a pink sponge became the unlikely replacement. One that he quickly molded into a cat. From there, he eventually graduated to aluminum foil, always of the belief that any discarded metal should “never be wasted.” Another form of recycling – turning trash into art.

With this mantra, Millien is now selling these sculptures and even doing commission work for big companies.  A few years ago, J. Crew requested a number of figurines as part of their “Crew Cuts” kids line. Plus, he tells us that gears are in motion to possibly ink a sponsorship-type deal with Reynolds Wrap. The perfect synergy.

Dean Millien’s solo debut “Curses, Foiled Again” opens Wednesday night at the Con Artist collective, 157 Suffolk Street.

Recent Stories

Uneven Ground: Is there a CB3 Double Standard Regarding Chinatown Restaurants? [OP-ED]

The following opinion piece was written by Chinatown activist, and Community Board 3 member Karlin Chan. As a member of Community Board 3, but primarily as a Chinatown resident, activist, and advocate, I cannot keep silent any further. It is disturbing to see CB3 apply different sets of rules when it comes to the SLA subcommittee’s […]

Did you See the Silver ‘Spaceship’ Cruising Down Delancey Street Last Weekend?

If you happened to be crossing Delancey Street on Sunday afternoon, you may have spotted the so-called “Spaceship Tank” driving eastward over the Williamsburg Bridge. You may have also whispered to yourself, “what the fuck was that.” Now we know. Apparently, a Brooklyn man named Charles Walters constructed the extraterrestrial transport by encasing a Chevrolet […]

‘I.M. Pastry Studio’ Debuts at Essex Street Market; ‘Dominican Cravings’ on the Way

Brooklyn-based pastry peddlers, I.M. Pastry Studio, signed a lease inside the Essex Street Market back in April. Four months later, the business is operational. I.M. Pastry Studio, specializing in custom cakes and pastries, began slinging its baked goods last week in what was formerly the seating area for Tra La La juicery. The eight-year-old bakery spawned as […]

Chris Burden’s ‘Ghost Ship’ Removed from the New Museum After 4 Years

The New Museum is in expansion mode. In due course, the forty-year-old institution will expand its capabilities and facilities next door to 233 Bowery. Okay, fine. But what of the appendage protruding from its boxy facade? The life-sized nautical ornament was pried from its four-story perch at the end of July. It was four years […]

Rumor: Cup & Saucer is Negotiating Lease for Grand Street Revival

There is hope for Cup & Saucer. On the heels of its “reopening” for a Netflix film shoot (i.e. Maniac with Emma Stone and Jonah Hill), rumors are circulating about its potential Lower East Side revival. Word on the street is that co-owner John Vasilopoulos is currently negotiating a lease for a new commercial space […]

  • Jay

    Awesome article. Looking forward to opening night!