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

HBO Wants to Film Scorsese/Jagger Series ‘Vinyl’ in Your Living Room

If you live in the vicinity of 253 East Houston (at Suffolk), now is your chance to have your abode on the small screen. HBO sent its scouts to the Lower East Side this week with the goal of finding apartments for its highly-anticipated music series, Vinyl. The crew is specifically looking for an “apartment with […]

The Sunshine Cinema Dedicates Marquee to Its Fallen Comrade

The Sunshine Cinema marquee remains in a state of mourning. For the last couple months, a memorial message has taken the place of movie titles playing inside. The lettering reads simply, “Rest in Peace Russell Tovig.” We are told that Russell Tovig was a beloved member of the Landmark Theaters team. Having functioned as longtime maintenance […]

DelShah Repositions 130 Orchard Street as ‘The Beckenstein’ After $28M Purchase

The address 130 Orchard Street doesn’t exist anymore. At least not in the eyes of brokers hell-bent on selling all corners of the Lower East Side to the highest bidder. It’s now forever known as the predictable, The Beckenstein, an obvious homage to its roots as a textile factory. (Unclear if permission was obtained from […]

Centre-fuge Cycle 17, June 2015
Centre-fuge Announces Cycle 18 Artists, Extended Indefinitely

Centre-fuge is striking while the proverbial iron is hot. The acclaimed public art project released the roster for its eighteenth cycle this week, mere days after coordinating new murals on the fence at First Street Green. Artists participating in Cycle 18 include Jet, Andy Golub, Below Key, Zero Productivity, Leon Rainbow, Rez Shoalin and a collaboration between […]

American Apparel’s ‘SoHo Factory Outlet’ Space is up for Grabs

It’s a rough week for American Apparel. The once-controversial, “Made-in-Downtown LA” clothing company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday morning. This bankruptcy protection deal reached enables American Apparel to both keep manufacturing in Los Angeles and its 130 stateside stores open. Here in the city, however, American Apparel had already given up on its 73rd […]

  • Jay

    Awesome article. Looking forward to opening night!