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San Francisco Welcomed Iconic Artist Roger Dean

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

One year ago today I reunited with an old friend from Sussex, in San Francisco...Artist Roger Dean and his lovely daughter Freyja were having a duo art show at the Haight Street Art Center. Since they left California and went home, Roger to England, Freyja and her husband, Mitsuyasu back to Tokyo....there is now a new addition to the family, a beautiful baby boy!

The following blog and photo gallery is a flashback from a year ago, the opening day of the Haight Street Art Center - Dean Duo show, August 25, 2022.

Roger Dean update Feb 2023: The exhibit in Grass Valley, Ca has come to a close this weekend (Feb. 4, 2023) with Roger Dean speaking about 'the steal' regarding James Camerons' two blockbuster films Avatar. The scenery in both films were very obviously taken from Deans work, but Cameron never even credited Roger nor did he get compensation. Not to worry if you missed seeing Deans' iconic paintings in Sacramento, as you can view and buy his art on a regular basis through the San Francisco Art Exchange on Geary Street.

Roger Dean, is an English artist, designer, and publisher. He is best known for his art work on posters and album covers for rock bands. He painted his first album cover in 1968 and designed his first logo in 1970. The artists for whom he created the most album covers for, and his name remains synonymous to this day, is the band, YES. The Roger Dean/Yes collaboration has been going for 50+years. He has also done art work for the band Asia and for games such as Tetris amongst many others. Roger designed the first logo for Virgin Records, a beautiful design called The Twins (shown below). Rogers' varied beginnings included, award winning furniture design at the Canterbury College of Art, and The Royal College of Art. He's also published over 100 books, and has architectural and typographic design in his wide realm of talents. His list of awards and accomplishments are endless, and very well deserved.

The album covers often feature fantasy landscapes that became an identity for the music inside the cover on the vinyl. His work has sold more than 150 million copies worldwide. And the paintings that are most recognized album covers are all probably for the prog rock band, Yes. And the Yes album, "Tales from Topographic Oceans" is possibly the most popular, and well recognized of them all.

You can read online, on Rogers site, to learn all sorts about the man, but I'm going to share a more personal insight to the artist that was my experience....I lived in London for about 20 years. When I moved from London to Brighton for my sons' schooling, is when I first met Roger. That was more than 20 years ago. He was the other parent at our bus stop. The two of us lived 17+ miles from the school. On a windy road through the forest.

The first day of school, I drove to the bus stop and this kind looking gray haired man came over to my car and pushed a little piece of paper through my window, with his name and phone number on it, kindly introducing himself and telling me this is his number in case we need to bring each others kids home on occasion. As I was brand new to the area, I didnt know where anything was located. And I couldn't have found a nicer new friend to show me around. He showed me where the local Tesco grocery store was, and the best canvas stretchers and framers (of course, as I am also a painter), as well as the best local Japanese restaurants. His daughter and my son were in the same class, so Roger and I would pick up each others' kids for special events at the school when the bus was not running. This worked out extremely well for us both! In that first week of school was one such event, so I brought his daughter, Freyja back, and Roger showed me around his home. In the studio there were a couple easels, a ladder with another canvas on it and lots of wonderful objects to look at. I didnt know he was Theeee Roger Dean of Yes album covers fame, just took a few minutes for me to suss that out. As I looked around, I saw random paintings in progress on easels, I saw Yes logos spotted around and a few more clues, but it still didn't sink in yet, until he showed me a little room off the kitchen where there are only shelves of record albums. I noticed there were ten or more of each, so I asked, "why do you have so many of the same of each album"...he answered, "because they are mine"...the bells went off in my head at that moment and realized this was the very same Roger Dean art work on album covers that I cleaned my weed in when i was a kid! And the same artist that created the posters that were on my walls as a teen. The light bulb went on over my head when I made the connection. That moment of connecting the dots on that day will always be a fond memory. And to follow this meeting rolled into a lovely friendship for the past 20+ years. Through the next few years whilst the kids went to school, I would have morning tea and chats with Roger at his kitchen table after dropping off our kids at the school bus. I can still smell the anise seed tea when I think of those mornings. I got to see many of his paintings in progress and loved each viewing and spotting the new details. was particularly exciting for me! Rogers daughter Freyja is a vibrant beautiful young woman. She is now a married woman, as she recently married a lovely man, Mitsuyasu, during the pandemic. She met Mitsuyasu in Japan where she has been residing for several years. He is also her hairdresser, as she told me, "I'm not stupid, he can do my hair too!" Freyja is also an artist, and Roger and Freyja are having their first duo show at The Haight Street Art Center, in San Francisco this month. The show opened on August 25th, and will be opened into October. The show is called, The Secret Path. Freyjas style is similar in the fantasy realm, but not the same as her father. The differences can definitley be identified. She uses black light paint in some of her work. And she shows the detail through the assistance of her trusty blacklight torch. (In several photos shown below).

After my attendance on the opening night, I am happy to report that the show was fantastic. A wonderfully complete showing of the true essence of the Dean style for both Roger and Freyjas' work. They hang harmoniously side by side in the Art Center showcased on the deep blue walls which makes the art pop, even more. And the opening night event was of course, full of die hard Dean fans. If you too are a Dean fan...this show is a must see!

On a personal note...As you can imagine, I'm thrilled to have my friends visiting from (my other), "home" and I'm sure fans of Rogers' work are thrilled to see the art in person. I've seen Freyjas art through the years since she was about 14 years old. I could always see her potential to becoming an artist herself, even though for a time it looked as if costume design may have been her calling....she's now a painter. Both her parents are painters, so she was born with potential talent for this business through mere genes. Although, where the talent may have originated from is Jane, Rogers' 100 year old mum. When I lived there I was fortunate enough to have had several afternoon chats with Jane whilst she took me on tours of her own art. Wartime fashion design was her thing, and I was lucky enough for her to take me through many pages of her own work. Rogers' brother, Martyn, also artistic, is a graphic designer. So, there is no shortage of talented artists in the Dean family. With Mum at the top of that talent!

If you are anywhere near Northern California, and are an art lover or simply a prog rock'll want to catch this art show in the Haight. Its extraordinary and should not be missed! If you're anything like me, it'll jog some cool memories from years ago.

What most people may not know is that Roger Dean is one of the calmest, warmest , kindest people I have had the pleasure to know. And for this time we've spent, I am forever grateful.

The photo gallery below are shots from the opening night at The Haight Street Art Center:

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2022

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