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:
Please Support the final 20th edition of the fine art Stone Nudes Calendar, (Link in Bio) from one of my favorite climbing artists and oldest friends @deanfidelman I've been there since the inception of Stone Nudes, which arose during the height of my dirtbag career in Yosemite. I actually appeared naked in the legendary "Stoned Dudes Nude," edition of his calendar. In the early days, I was one of Dean's top recruiters, and I was always happy to help Dean however I could to achieve his artistic vision. In this photo, I am helping my friend Aimee to get in position for one of his earlier Stone Nudes. It's hard to believe that Dean has been working on this project for 20 years now, and through it all, has managed to mostly lose money, and continues to hold the title as the most tortured artist I know. From his first nude to his last, Dean has kept it old school, shooting all of these images on…. GASP… FILM… using a borrowed/stolen Medium Format Pentax, owned by the late great creator of Five Ten, Charles Cole. I think it's safe to say that Dean is the longest standing Yosemite Dirtbag, having suffered for his art and lived on next to nothing in Yosemite for almost 50 years now, stretching from the days of the Stonemasters, to the present day, where Dean continues to be a true Yosemite Historian, having produced several awesome books documenting the early history of Yosemite Climbing. His "Yosemite in the Fifties," book is a must own! Let's make Dean's 20th edition of the calendar successful! PLEASE SUPPORT!!!!
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. ❤