DeeJon is a collaboration between a symbiotic pair of artists whose styles comfortably fuse but yet are highly contrasted. Marjon distributes rhythmic and classically painted females that balance delicately yet deliberately on top of the contemporary shapes and patterns of Dandee Warhol. Their work is refreshing, a new synthesized taste that has yet to be satiated and enjoyed. Free Press Houston reached out to wrap our head around the minds of DeeJon so that we can all have a deeper understanding of their artistic work, process and being.
Free Press Houston: How was your collective formed?
Marjon: Working together at the school and exchanging ideas definitely formed the groundwork for our collaboration. We really began to painting together when Dandee brought a wooden panel piece into the studio to work on. The wood grains on half of the piece looked like it was dripping and we thought it would be interesting for the two of us to play off of that idea together. He painted bright candy colors over the wooden drips and I painted a figure emerging underneath the colors.
FPH: What style of art do you consider your collective to be?
DeeJon: A combination of pop art, realism, and surrealism. I’m not sure if there’s a category or title for that.
FPH: You’re both teachers and working artists, how do you balance your artist and work lives?
Dandee: With us, there is a blurred line between personal art and work. We see it as a whole and ultimately it balances itself out in the end. My mind is always in work mode and I sometimes feel guilty if I’m just sitting around and doing nothing. I feel like I should always be doing something productive.
FPH: Did you receive any art education or are you a self-taught artist?
Dandee: I am a self-taught artist.
Marjon: I graduated from University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a degree in illustration.
FPH: Did you both strive or make art from an early age? Tell me about your childhood and how you were raised. Did your family cultivate and support your artistic desires?
Dandee: I’ve felt like I’ve always been an artist since I could remember. I would draw and doodle even before I could read or write. But i didn’t think I would be doing art for a living.
Marjon: Growing up I was always drawing. It wasn’t until I was in high school and I connected with my art teacher that I actually thought about a career in the arts. She was the one who really gave me the confidence to pursue the arts.
FPH: What are you primary mediums?
Dandee: Mostly acrylics, but I love learning new mediums like oil and spray paint.
Marjon: My primary medium is oil paint.
FPH: How do you pick your color palette?
Dandee: Since I’m color blind, I choose my palettes by values, intuition and the way they balance on the canvas. I don’t follow color theory.
Marjon: I am the complete opposite from Dandee and I think that is why our collaboration works so well. In painting the human figure I am constantly focusing on the subtleties in flesh tones and color combinations. I am interested in painting soft and fluid subjects.
FPH: When and where will your first show be?
DeeJon: Our first DeeJon show will be held at Neiman Marcus on November 9 from 6 to 8pm. Our two main paintings will be on display for two weeks at the entrance display windows and the rest will be held at their VIP reception area.
FPH: What is your artistic or conceptual message for the show you have on November 9?
Marjon: This collection happened very organically and I think it ultimately represents the voices of two very different artists. Where the conversation stops with one artist it continues with the next artist. There becomes a balance between Dandee’s strong lines and bold color with my traditionally painted figures.
FPH: Tell me about the long process of DeeJon came to bring this show to fruition?
Dandee: We first had an idea with Marzi — Marjon’s sister and Houston-based stylist — to integrate fashion into our artwork. From there, we talked to LOCAL Magazine about being involved with the fashion issue in November. It was decided that the magazine would provide the platform with the models and the feature in the issue, DeeJon would paint the models, then Marzi would style the models and bring everything together. The project took about 8 months to complete and it’s finally coming together.
FPH: Any upcoming projects you’d like to mention aside from November 9th?
Dandee: I’m in another private show 2 days after DeeJon called Found Underground. It’s with DonkeeBoy and friends with a selective lists of collectors. Then I’ll be taking DeeJon to Miami Art Basel at end of November to early December.
Marjon: I’m also looking forward to presenting some of our current work in Miami at Art Basel.
FPH: Tell me about the educational movement and ideologies of the WIDE school that you both work at? Do you guys utilize personal philosophies that you feel are educational improvements? Is art important for children and why?
Marjon: Our school name stands for Wonder Investigate Discover Educate (WIDE). We are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and passionate about teaching the whole child. We integrate the arts within class subjects in order to strengthen the learning experience. Working artist make up our creative team and work alongside the educators in the school. Through their specialized medium, students explore topics and subjects that extend the learning in the classroom. I feel very luck to be a part of a movement in education that promotes creativity and integrates the arts in education.
Dandee: Marjon could tell you more about the philosophy but we follow the Reggio Emilia approach. I do feel like art is therapeutic because it helps me personally with my struggles in life. I feel like sadness and depression fuels my art and some of my best work comes from when I’m feeling down. When it comes to children, I see that art helps them develop mentally and physically from cognitive thinking and refining their motor skills. I see big improvements from children who take art compared to other children who do not practice. So I believe that art is very important in education, especially with the pre-k’s and toddlers.
FPH: How do you bring visual perspective into your pieces and how do you hope a viewer interacts with your pieces?
Dandee: With me, a lot of my art comes from my dreams.
Marjon: I hope the viewers find a connection with these figures that are placed in these dreamlike environments. To have the viewer escape reality for a brief moment and truly explore the art would be the hope.
FPH: What are your worldly influences?
Dandee: Pop culture, everyday surroundings and other artists.
Marjon: I am really interested in understanding the techniques of old masters.
FPH: What has your artistic experience been like here in Houston?
Dandee: Houston is a good platform for emerging artists because there is a lot of support and encouragement from the community. Now I think it’s time to take our art to another level and show outside of Houston.
Marjon: I still feel like i am pretty new to the art scene in Houston. I started off as a freelance illustrator when I moved back here from college so the majority of my work was always created in my studio and then emailed out to companies. I have slowly started showing my work here in Houston and it has been a great experience. Dandee has really helped guide and introduce me to the art world and I am very grateful to grow in this community.
FPH: Which Houston local artists inspire you?
Dandee: Of course Marjon, Kevin Peterson, Daniel Anguilu,
Marjon: Dandee, Kevin Peterson, Stephanie Gonzalez and Karine Parker-Lemoyne.
FPH: Did you have a defining moment that inspired you to dedicate your life to art and teaching?
Dandee: Yes. Both revolves around my gallery, War’Hous. I was working in financial trading when I opened War’Hous. When I got laid off from my day job in 2010, I focused all of my energy into my gallery and also my own art. This was the defining moment that catapulted me into a full time artist. Then when I closed the gallery doors in 2013, that’s when Marjon invited me to work with her at the WIDE School and I’ve been teaching art since then.
Marjon: After I graduated, I started working as a medical illustrator and quickly realized that the tediousness of the career wasn’t right for me. I started teaching private art lessons at a school that my Aunt owned and I realized that I really enjoyed it. I understood that I had the ability to create an impact in someone’s life and it was something that I wanted to explore more of. That journey organically grew into my sister succeeding my aunt as the director of the school and I took the role as art director.
FPH: What advice would you give to an aspiring artist? Do you have your own personal mantra or fuel that you use to work through the day?
Dandee: This will sound kind of cliche, but my main advice is to find what you love to do and pursue that. Focus on that happiness and everything else will fall into place.
Marjon: To continue to learn, explore, and search for creativity in every aspect of your career. Do what makes you happy and fulfilled in your creative career.
DeeJon will be unveiling their first body of work on Wednesday, November 9, at Neiman Marcus from 6 to 8 pm.