Dean Butterfield was born in Knoxville, Iowa. Butterfield’s father was a master carpenter and building superintendent, and in the summer of his sophomore year Butterfield apprenticed as a carpenter. When he graduated, it seemed that he would follow in his father’s footsteps. Instead, in April 1966, he entered the Marine Corps, which Butterfield saw as an opportunity to “explore interesting places”. After Vietnam, he returned to the United States and embarked on his career as a land surveyor. He worked with the exact measurements, shape, contour and elevations of the land and its features, a skill that would later prove useful in his to his ability to later shape wood and stone. His work took him to Alaska, the beaches of Cabo San Lucas, and the peaks of Colorado. In 2009, the recession hit and Butterfield found himself unemployed. He decided to take a trip to Vancouver, Canada, and in the Museum of Anthropology in the University of British Columbia, Butterfield discovered his interest in carving. When he returned home, he picked up a book on Northwestern Native American Art and immediately began crafting a shaman’s rattle in cedar. Shortly thereafter, he became a member of a local woodcarving group, went on to study at the School of Classical Woodcarving in San Rafael, California, Saddleback College Sculpture & Metal Arts Program in Mission Viejo, California and the Laguna College of Arts and Design Stone Carving Workshops. Butterfield now works out of the California Sculpture Academy in Fallbrook. His works are featured by Laguna landscape designer Ruben Flores at his Laguna Nursery, and were also sold through Whim Home – Sophisticated Interior Design in San Juan Capistrano, California.
“In retrospect, the qualities, talents and skills of the young marine, the land surveyor, and the adventurer had found new form in the man as an artist,” he notes. “I am inspired by the places that I’ve been and things that I know. Shape, form, line, exactness, the singing geckos of Costa Rica, the long wing of an Alaskan Golden Eagle, a mother and child and the angels that I’ve known. The polar bears and penguins represent adventures still to come.” –Butterfield