Artist Spotlight: For Pete’s Sake

pete

Artist James Dean’s path to fame was guided by the ageless spirit of a very real feline, now the iconic symbol of tongue-in-cheek grooviness.

By LARUE HARDINGER

Fort Payne native James Dean shares more than just a name and good looks with the 1950s silver-screen heartthrob. Both are celebrities of the coolest sort.

Dean is the creator of Pete the Cat – a golden-eyed, blue feline known the world over as the ‘groovy’ cat with hooded gaze and plenty of attitude. “I’m stuck in the ’70s,” admits Dean, flashing a grin. He looks the part – with sleek ponytail, trimmed beard and mustache, casual garb and wire-rimmed glasses – behind which are perpetually smiling eyes.

“People tell me Pete has my eyes,” he adds, as would any proud father.

Art is Dean’s passion, but drawing Pete the Cat was never a quest for stardom. Fame found Dean just as Dean found Pete – who most definitely was a real cat.

“That’s the question I am asked most often,” Dean relates. Dean visited a Madison, Ga., animal shelter in 1999. Normally he would’ve passed on a skinny black kitten, but Pete reached out a paw. “Pete chose me,” Dean smiles.

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