Dean's work uses images of people or objects without clear context to elicit familiar emotions (a pretty girl, a well-dressed man, a child, an astronaut, flowers) but undermines the emotions that attend these icons with text. While the subject is often attractive and comforting – eliciting feelings of nostalgia and innocence – the sentiment that overlays the image is typically bitter, or melancholic, or cynical, or bleak. This juxtaposition often creates a unique conflict for the viewer.
Dean's paintings have appeared in numerous galleries & museums (The Santa Monica Museum of Art, The Zimmer Museum, The Tucson Museum Of Art, etc.) sharing wall space with dozens of prominent artists, including Marc Ryden, Raymond Pettibon, Diane Arbus, Ed Ruscha, Gary Baseman, Robert Rauschenberg, Ralph Steadman and Andy Warhol.