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Local artist finds renewed inspiration in retirement

Back in the 1960s, Farmington resident Dean Burns was what you might call an aspiring artist. However, like many of us, life got in the way.

“For years I was buried in my work,” said Dean. He was a school administrator and teacher in public education for 33 years and then worked for Central Methodist University for 11 years before retiring in 2006.

Thanks to a traveling art exhibit brought to Area Mineral College by the school’s librarian—and Dean’s wife—the newly retired, former artist suddenly found his creative fire rekindled.

The exhibit, sponsored by the Smithsonian and titled Barn Again!, traced the history of farming in the United States and made both Dean and his wife take a fresh look at their rural surroundings.

“She and I went around the area taking pictures of old barns and I got so enthused about it I decided to take some of the barns—icons that are no longer being built—and do watercolor and oil paintings of them,” said Dean.

And that’s all it took.

From there, Dean started another series of paintings depicting the churches around nearby Ste. Genevieve followed by an exploration into landscapes and sculpture.

“I’ve stayed very busy in retirement,” said Dean.

Eventually Dean immersed himself into the local art scene by joining the Ste. Genevieve Art Guild. It was there, through his fellow artists, that Dean first learned about Presbyterian Manor’s Art is Ageless® juried art competition.

“Hearing them talk about the competition—that’s the reason I decided to enter,” said Dean. “I’m kind of getting old, too, and I saw something that people 65 and older can still do things and compete.”

Not only did Dean enter, he won. In fact, over the years, Dean says he has won 11 ribbons through the competition—including four or five first-place, blue ribbons.

“It has blown my mind in a way,” said Dean. “Never did I expect or consider that I would receive these types of honors—I’m overwhelmed about it.”

For this year’s competition, Dean is entering three pieces—two sculptures and one painting.

And don’t count on this being the last year that Dean will be entering the competition.

“I’m now 82 years old and am thinking, ‘I’m an old man,’ but I know I can compete with others,” said Dean.

The entry deadline for this year’s Art is Ageless competition is April 25. To learn more, or to find out how you can enter, contact Keely Jameson at 573-756-6768 or visit

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