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3 Red, White and Genetic Blues: Recent works by Scott Dupree include 1) Diving (acrylic and wax crayon on panel, 27x36, 2009), 2) George Washington Crossing the Kitchen (acrylic on paper, 22x30, 2009) and 3) Paul Revere Calling (acrylic on paper, 22x30, 2009)

American Expressed
A
merica is a land of noble mongrels. While were addicted to hits of power and celebrity, we are equally obsessed with our ancestral roots, origins and heritage. We can both thank and blame the founding fathers for this. I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men, observed omas Je erson, in a letter to John Adams in 1813, e grounds of this are virtue and talents. Je erson went on to admit, almost reluctantly, to the existence of what he called an arti cial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents. However, he considered our inherently egalitarian and almost free- oating natural aristocracy the most precious gi of nature. For whatever reasons tradition, information access, boredom, racial pride and/ or prejudice we the people, at times, seem to ignore our intrinsic virtuousness and become hellbent on excavating our ancestral heritage, an occult-like homesickness for a land we have never seen or ever inhabited. Atlanta-based artist Scott Dupree had his sense of interior wanderlust awakened in the truest American fashion. As a child, the now36-year-old Georgia-born Dupree traveled the country with his parents in a roving lifestyle he describes as nomadic, yet the Dupree family was no band of Ken Kesey pranksters. ey were not hippies at all, explains Dupree in an interview with Folio Weekly from his home in the Peach State. In fact, Duprees parents were essentially white-collar workers who, fed up with the corporate world, quit their jobs to hit the road with their then-8-year-old son. ey sold everything, and we moved onto a sailboat and sailed up and down the coast of Florida, he recalls. Trips to the Bahamas and the Caribbean followed, and a er 18 months, the trio explored the Continental United States in a VW Rabbit for a year and a half. I would say we traveled aimlessly, Dupree o ers, but that was

Painter Scott Dupree lters our skewed national identity through hauntingly humorous images
probably the best way to go. is direct lesson in applied restlessness encouraged the burgeoning artists desire to seek out his own heritage, both familial and creative. You go from being in Pennsylvania and seeing horse-drawn buggies, to then being in the swamps outside of New Orleans, Dupree notes. ere are so many di erent extremes in this country of how people really are. ose polarities, combined with Duprees own heritage of being born a Jew and also as a Southern Confederate caused weird tensions that propelled him further into the pursuit of the ne arts. A er getting a BFA from University of Georgia in painting, Dupree directed his inner journey into acrylic-covered canvases. If there is a theme in Duprees work, it is centered I think people have these entrenched ideas that are put into their heads about their heritage, says Dupree, especially in the fact that so many of us are essentially immigrants. Dupree places secret signi ers and archetypes into his paintings, subtle guideposts that lead the audience deeper into his world. e recurring motif of a Basque hobbyhorse is an odd elegy to a culture on the verge of extinction. It fascinates me that they have been there so long, says Dupree of this ancient civilization still living in the Pyrenees Mountains dividing France and Spain, and have been deliberately immune to change. Duprees upcoming St. Augustine show at the new space:eight gallery, located in Rob DePiazzas Screen Arts building, consists of 17 acrylic works that deal with his ongoing

Dupree places secret signiers and archetypes into his paintings, subtle guideposts that lead the audience deeper into his world.
around these same questions of identity, heritage and even an odd sense of patriotism, but delivered through vehicles that are at the same time arcane and weirdly humorous. In pieces like Dont Tread on Me (2009, acrylic on paper), a ag-waving gure in red, white and blue is consumed by a fanged rattler. Another piece, Irish Inuit American (2009, acrylic on paper), shows a transmission from the outer ring of planet Americana: a gure captured mid-leap during an alien war dance, clutching a tomahawk, as American ags seem to be stabbing an eagle-headed monstrosity straight out of Eskimo mythology. Clad in striped athletic socks and light-blue sneakers, the gure is equal parts peyote vision and a 21st-century commentary on our ephemeral, shi ing culture. exploration of identity and self. DePiazza, back in the gallery biz a er an extended hiatus, says he connected with Dupree because his work is incredibly clever and because of Duprees de painterly style and palette. In addition to his illustration skills, Scott Dupree is gi ed with a depth of vision and ideas that transcend politics. e themes are so broad that they dont have to mean anything, the artist says. Im looking at the inside.
Dan Brown dbrown@folioweekly.com

e opening reception for Scott Duprees exhibit is held from 5-11 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 at space:eight gallery, 228 W. King St., St. Augustine. e closing reception is held on Dec. 2. 829-2838.

october 4-10, 2011 | folio weekly | 29

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