Dewey Crumpler (b. 1949, San Francisco, CA) examines the lure of contemporary pop culture in his mixed media works, which explore global consumer capitalism. Crumpler got his start in the city as a muralist, studying under master teachers Pablo Esteban O’Higgins and David Alfaro Siqueiros. For Dewey, murals are an urban tradition that blends public art, a people’s history, vivid color, and politics. In the late 1960s, when San Francisco’s George Washington High School’s mural “Life of Washington” was under fire from African-American students, a twentysomething Crumpler was tapped to create new murals in response. His paintings, a now iconic triptych of murals called Multi-Ethnic Heritage, are still at the high school. After over a decade of working as a muralist, he began to address slavery in America. In one extensive body of work, Crumpler used tulips as a symbol for African bodies, both of which were taken out of their original environment and shipped around the world. Dewey Crumpler's new Visual Rhythm series examines powerful structures that frame social interpretations. He also exposes the malleability that leads to empowerment and liberation. Re-contextualizing symbols such as the tulip and top hat, Crumpler examines Black consciousness, transforming space and time.
Dewey Crumpler is an Associate Professor of Painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he taught Kehinde Wiley and Deborah Roberts. Upcoming exhibitions include Dewey Crumpler: Crossings at the Richmond Art Center, a 15-year survey including over 120 of his works. He is in the permanent collections of the Oakland Museum of California; the Triton Museum of Art, CA; and the California African American Museum. Digital images of his murals were included in the 2017 Tate Modern’s Soul of a Nation. He received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant, a Flintridge Foundation Award, and the Fleishhacker Foundation Fellowship Eureka Award. Crumpler lives and works in Berkeley and San Francisco, CA.