Renowned Artist Installs Huge Mural at Philadelphia Airport - Now All He Needs Is A Buyer

Philadelphia's James Dupree calls unsold "Evolving Elements" his magnum opus.

It's thirty feet long, eight feet high and at last for now, occupies a coveted spot in Philadelphia International Airport's Terminal E, opposite the gates of Southwest Airlines.

Travelers awaiting flights gawk at its great swirls of color and the vibrant three-dimensional rings that jut from its surface.

It's the kind of art installation that any airport - or any other great building - would be proud to display.

Now all the artist needs is someone to buy it.

"It's a tremendous honor to have this mural in such a prominent place in my hometown airport," says James Dupree, 60. "Quite frankly, I think it's my magnum opus - the best thing I've ever done. Unfortunately, it's not a permanent installation - so unless somebody decides to acquire it for the airport or some other location, it goes back to my studio in May."

Of course, the mural isn't something just anyone can whip out their plastic and pay for.

Asking price? $220,000.

A renowned abstractionist whose work is represented in museums and collections worldwide, Dupree says he knew the terms of the airport deal when he agreed to create the installation; and that the acrylic and oil painting, entitled "Evolving Elements," was never intended for purchase by the airport. It was installed as part of Philadelphia International's Exhibitions program, in which Philadelphia artists are asked to lend their works for a specific time period, usually about six months. The intent of the program is to showcase local talent to the wider world as well as arts professionals.

"James is a very prolific, energetic artist...I'm honored to have him here" says Leah Douglas, Director of Exhibitions at the airport. Douglas says that although "Evolving Elements" was never intended to be a permanent addition to Terminal E, the program's artwork does have a history of finding buyers.

"Thousands of people a day will see this work - so the opportunity is really high that something else could come from this exhibition...a sale, another show, a commission in the future. Artwork does sell that we exhibit," says Douglas.

Good news for Dupree; but even if the piece doesn't find a buyer, he's not complaining.

"Sure, I'd love to see the thing sell. My fantasy is that some big oil baron or internet tycoon will walk by and say, 'wow, that's just what we need for the living room.' But a lot of artists would kill to have their work displayed in a major airport like this. I'm only sorry the piece can't stay here forever."

About James Dupree

James Dupree was born in Philadelphia. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

His work is represented in numerous museums and collections around the world including:

The Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
The Columbus Museum of Fine Art
The Schomberg Museum, Copenhagen
The Schomberg Center, New York
The Studio Museum of Harlem, New York
The African American Museum, Philadelphia
The African American Museum, New York
The Free Library of Philadelphia

Dupree's work is also included in many corporate and private collections. Sony, SmithKline, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Tower Records display his work at their headquarters and the Dave Matthews Band and singer Patti Labelle are among his collectors. He is also the recipient of many prestigious grants and fellowships.

As an educator, Dupree has taught at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, the Studio Museum of Harlem in New York, the Contemporary Arts Center in North Adams, MA and the Pioneer Arts Organization in Cardiff, Wales.

Dupree is also president of Dupree Studios, Inc, an art gallery that also offers painting and drawing classes to the public.

For more about James Dupree, visit


Categories: Arts and Entertainment

Tags: airport, art, dupree, james, money, Mural, Philadelphia

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