Off the Top of My HeadBy Paul Murray
Would the real Dean Buchanan please stand up?
If you see this guy, he’s not Dean Buchanan…
In the summer of 2006, a guy claiming to be Auckland artist Dean Buchanan arrived in Karamea and asked to stay with us at the LivinginPeace Project. His line was that he was overwhelmed by media attention and had decided to escape the limelight for a while to concentrate on his artwork out of the public eye. He also had an artwork to deliver to Shania Twain and was on his way to Wanaka to meet her and deliver the painting, which she had apparently agreed to purchase for $NZ17,000.
As the founder of the LivinginPeace Project, which incorporates art, travel, permaculture and education into a sustainable business, I was delighted with the opportunity to host such a successful and well-established artist as one of the principle objectives of the LivinginPeace Project is to assist artists and foster creative pursuit.
I offered “Dean” a quiet, peaceful cabin on our permaculture farm so that he could live and work without interruption. The cabin has no phone, Internet or other distraction and he said it was exactly what he was looking for and thanked me profusely for the opportunity. I gave him a very reasonable rental rate and looked forward to getting to know him and seeing what came out of the arrangement artistically.
I have to establish clearly that “Dean” was a very nice person, extremely amicable, had a great sense of humour, and was always eager to help on the farm and with the business…it was pleasant to host him and he was a very low-maintenance guest…the only problem is that he wasn’t Dean Buchanan.
He was driving an old Toyota truck that was loaded with artworks of all descriptions, including the 3mx2m abstract landscape that was scheduled for the wall of Twain’s Motatapu Station property near Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand. The painting was superb, a rugged landscape in warm colours on hessian featuring New Zealand forest…”Dean” allowed us to display it on the wall at Rongo Backpackers & Gallery until it was time for him to deliver it to Twain…again, I was delighted to have such a beautiful artwork on loan in our gallery.
After about a week, I noticed that “Dean” hadn’t really been doing much in terms of painting and my spidey sense began to tingle a little. I did some research on Dean Buchanan and his artwork and the available photos at that time were insufficient for me to definitively determine that “Dean” was not Dean. Both Deans were around the same age, had similar facial features and the information I was able to track down online was in line with what “Dean” had told me, so I decided to accept his story and allow him to stay on. I accepted that his lack of productivity was in line with his stated need for peace and quiet and rest to recover from an intensively creative phase of his career and the associated media attention.
After two weeks, I asked for payment for his accommodation and my intuition proved to be correct…”Dean” didn’t have any money! He then wanted to work for accommodation, or give me some artworks from his van in lieu of payment…my response was then as it is now…”I can’t pay my bills with paintings mate,” “Pay up, and honour our agreement, or move on.”
Several months later, the real Dean Buchanan called and filled in the details. Apparently, “Dean” was an impostor who had stolen his identity along with many of his artworks and was travelling around selling them to finance his life.
I called the real Dean Buchanan at his studio in Auckland to get an update on proceedings and apparently the identity/art thief is still on the lam.
Buchanan said the impostor’s real name was “Ian something, but he also goes by Gunny Huckleberry.” He added “Last I heard, he was in Napier smoking “P” and whoring it up in my name.”
Identity theft is becoming a popular form of fraud these days and “Gunny Huckleberry” has cost Dean Buchanan thousands of dollars in damaged reputation, character defamation as well as the theft of his physical and intellectual property.
To see the awesome artworks of the real Dean Buchanan visit his Web site:
On a positive note, we now offer the cabin on our permaculture farm to aspiring artist’s as part of the LivinginPeace Project Artist in Residence Programme and it has become known as the Artist’s Bach. We have hosted artists from the United States, Northern Ireland, Canada, France, Japan, Israel, and New Zealand.