I met photographer Dean Fidelman while living in Yosemite National Park in 1999, and for years I invested everything I had—physically, energetically, spiritually, and financially—into his StoneNudes project. This attempt to build a something that would financially support a complete immersion into art, nature, community collaboration, social activism, and a life well-lived sparked a sense of purpose I’ve been both refining and expanding ever since. Though I ultimately chose to distance myself from the always-fraught business side of StoneNudes, Dean and I have remained very close friends and artistic collaborators.
Climbing podcast Enormocast recently published not one but two entire episodes’ worth of an interview with Dean (here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2), and they’re fantastic. As someone who came of age listening to climbers’ yarns around Yosemite campfires, and who regularly groans at the media’s lazy sensationalization of Dean’s work, I have to say that it is a rare treat to hear the man himself explain, at length and very eloquently, why he does the work he does.
All other accounts leave out what I believe are the most important elements of his story: his deep appreciation for his mentors, his community (including those who have left us), the places that inspire his work, his commitment to giving back, and the reality of what it’s like to walk in his shoes… the mismatched shoes of our deceased friend Sean, as the case happens be.
This year marks the 20th and final edition of the StoneNudes Calendar, and I’m thrilled that Dean’s Kickstarter campaign is doing so well! His goal was a modest $6,500, which is barely enough to cover his printing and shipping costs (and believe me, I have intimate experience with these details, for reasons I covered briefly in this video).
As of this writing, people have contributed over $29,000. That number is climbing fast thanks to the Enormocast podcasts, articles in several online publications, and social media boosts like this one from Cedar Wright, who reluctantly introduced me to Dean nineteen years ago this September:
I am very much looking forward to Dean’s next publishing projects, in particular a second StoneNudes book and a book featuring photographs of and words from the late, great Dean Potter… but I also can’t wait to see how he channels everything he’s learned thus far into something that will support the next generation of artists in the climbing community.
Congratulations, Dean! It’s been an honor to be part of your life and work for all these years, and I couldn’t be more proud of you. ❤