Dandee Warhol: The Bright Idea
By Holly Charles Floating up the escalator to the third floor of The Galleria Mall’s Neiman Marcus was like gliding into a colorful and fashionable dream. The buzz of the intimate crowd was almost inaudible under the bass of the DJ, appropriately placed at the center of the trendy gathering of eager celebrants of Local Houston Magazine’s November Style & Fashion issue.
Scattered among the fashionable guests and racks of designer apparel was the focus of the night’s event, the brilliant artwork of DeeJon, an artistic superduo made up of Marjon and Dandee Warhol. The unveiled magazine cover, a captivating mirroring of a live model gazing into the eyes of her own drawn image is front and center for guests to admire as they enter the exclusive event. Fashion Editor MarziFat‘s vision of a literal merging of fashion and art for the magazine’s cover has, after eight months of hard work, finally come to fruition, to the delight of art enthusiasts and fashionistas alike.
The dual-purpose project resulted in the cooperation of modeling agency Page Parkes, an inspiration shoot of prospective muses, the genius art collaboration and six-piece art collection from DeeJon, and an impressive seven-page spread for Dandee Warhol to add to his already expansive resume.
In contrast to the bright lights and canvases about the space, Dandee Warhol is an unassuming figure, dressed almost head to toe in black. The only indication that he is an integral part of the night’s festivities is the short line of people casually fighting to gain his attention without losing their cool. He nods humbly at most guests, answering questions, accepting congratulatory remarks and posing in front of one of the life sized portraits capturing the eyes and hearts of everyone in attendance. His dark appearance completely juxtaposes his brand of brightly colored “hyper-realistic surrealism,” as he calls it, a mix of cartoonist, hard lines and shadows, nostalgia and cosmic fantasy. His basic black ensemble is owed to a fact which might discourage most visual artists; he is colorblind. But Dandee says confidently, “I was born an artist.” He has been creating since before he could even read and write and says that colorblindness is simply an accent of his creative abilities.
Colorblindness makes it easier to choose his cheerful palettes
Much like his academic transition at age nine from the Philippines to the U.S., he had to prove that the language barrier was what held him back and not his actual abilities. What others couldn’t comprehend was that he understood English; he just needed to interpret that understanding another way. Similarly, Warhol says that colorblindness makes it easier for him to freely choose his signature cheerful palettes because he doesn’t have to feel burdened by color theory and/or how well his colors choices complement each other. Instead of feeling intimidated by the common, yet seemingly necessary skills of other artists, he duplicates his early academic childhood success by using his artistic understanding to his advantage. Instead, Warhol explains, “I balance according to lightness and darkness,” a technique that has not only burgeoned fantastic results, but has made Dandee (his birth name) Warhol worthy of his artistic allusion towards iconic pop culture artist Andy Warhol.
Similar to his moniker’s legacy, Dandee Warhol coupled his business degree from the University of Houston with his passion for art when he opened War’Hous Visual Studios (2010-2013), an art gallery that catered to the underground art scene. Always reinventing himself and revitalizing his own brand, though, Dandee has since given up the physical studio to engage his fans in a less conventional way. Now, you can witness his evolving art by visiting his website at www.dandeewarhol.com to purchase trendy 90s pop-art inspired apparel and art prints or get information about where you can find his next Pop-Up art show.
With a seemingly constant evolution, Dandee Warhol’s name has been synonymous with a few uncompromising characteristics: 1) Pop culture 2) Happy Vibes and 3) the infamous Annual War’Hous Presents Star Wars Art Festival which, in its fifth year this May 2017, boasts 100+ artist submissions and a staggering 5,000 attendees last year alone. To his delight, Dandee Warhol’s name has become synonymous with all things surreal and cosmic, much like his collaboration with DeeJon, where beautiful, nude women are standing amidst colorful laser beams, waves of saturated color or sprawling in trippy space tunnels.
“Art is therapy for me…”
The bright, surreal scenes represent Dandee Warhol’s optimism and thirst for positive energy. During those times when he doesn’t feel as positive, he says, “art is therapy for me… art helps me… Some of my best work was from when I was feeling really low.”
Essentially, the artist simulates through his art what he wants to see in his reality. For that reason, he began a nonprofit organization for childhood art therapy and currently teaches art to young children at WIDE School (Wonder Investigate Discover Educate). When he isn’t busy sharing his love of art with youth, helping herds of Houston artists gain exposure for themselves, curating some of Houston’s most innovative art shows (Warhol co-curated last year’s HUE Houston Mural Festival), or jet-setting to Miami to show work at the infamous Art Basel, he is creating a space conducive to continuing the happy vibes he’s known for.
In that space, the windows are open to let the sunlight flood his studio, while he blasts the cosmic love sounds of Flume and stares lovingly at a new canvas. You’re sure to find Dandee Warhol’s work joyfully infused into the side of Houston’s downtown buildings, as a giant Mickey Mouse at the center of a Lawndale Arts Center mural, on the printed tank of some hipster art enthusiast and, eventually, on the main stages of the national and international art scenes.