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Western Art Week: talking with artist Tom Dean

Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 15, 2024

In the midst of Western Art Week 2024 in Great Falls, Tim McGonigal talked with artist Tom Dean, who creates one-of-a-kind wood carving sculptures; click here to check out his website.

While between jobs in 2005, with just a jigsaw and a belt sander, Tom put his love for the great outdoors to work, carving a fish that hangs in his studio to this day. He kept at his craft, obsessed with getting better and selling a fish for $60 at a Christmas art show. “At that time that was a really rewarding feeling,” said Dean.

His carvings got more detailed. The owner of a gallery in Big Sky agreed to show one of his sculptures made up of several fish, cattails, and a dragonfly: “At the time I think it was probably around $4,500 that I put on it which I thought was a lot of money,” he recalled. The piece didn’t sell, until the gallery owner asked him to raise the price significantly. “I just picked a figure out of my head and said, ok, put $28,500 on it,” said Dean. “In two weeks, it sold to a couple from the Yellowstone Club."

It was then he knew he could earn a living making art and Milo Creek Carvings was born. “Milo was my grandfather, Milo is my middle name,” said Dean.