Walter L. Dean
When I began visiting Cape Ann in 1965, the first of the artists to open up their home and studio to me was Wayne and Lillian Morrell. In later visits over the next few years, we would go antiquing together on a great quest for hidden paintings in our very narrow price range. One such antique shop near Rocky Neck, Gloucester had a huge pile of panels and canvases leaning against a wall by the totally unknown (to us) artist Walter L. Dean. Clearly he was a painter of some training and great interest in the region, judging from subject matter. These paintings in “as-found condition,”—a nice way of saying “dirty, dog-eared, unframed”—could be had for $5.00 apiece… any one you want. After scrounging through the work, Wayne and I probably purchased ten pieces each and returned to his studio to examine our discoveries more closely. The pieces were clearly in need of some attention, and we realized it would cost considerably more to clean the pictures than it did to buy them. In a flash of insight, Wayne said, “I know how to clean them,” and he took an uncooked potato, cut it in half, diced the exposed inside with a knife, and proceeded to vigorously scrub the surface of the first Walter L. Dean painting. It worked surprisingly well, and after a bushel of potatoes, we had a lot of clean paintings. Over the years, I disposed of all of the paintings except this authentic image of a figure cutting slabs of a whale that are being hauled up the sides of a whaling vessel. To my knowledge, none of these paintings ever suffered from such unorthodox restoration.