Can one person fight city hall and actually win? In the case of artist James Dupree, the answer is yes. This nationally renowned artist battled the City of Philadelphia for two years to save his art studio from the government’s eminent domain claim and won.
Dupree will be sharing the story about his fight to save his studio and his artwork at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) with a special art exhibition, “Stolen Dreams from the Promised Zone,” from Oct. 12 through Nov. 4 at the College’s Fine Arts Center Gallery, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, and a documentary film showing on Oct. 13, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. in the College’s Science Center Theater.
An opening reception for the art exhibit will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. in the gallery, and a reception will be held prior to the documentary showing at 5:30 p.m. The exhibit, document and receptions are free and open to the community—everyone is welcome.
The documentary, “Broken Dreams: The Man I Always Wanted to Be,” is a collaboration between filmmakers Tyrone Brown and MCCC alumnus Joseph Sapienza. The documentary features Dupree’s career as an artist and his artwork and highlights his fight against Philadelphia’s eminent domain claim for his art studio in the Mantua community of West Philadelphia—an area that has been designated as a Promise Zone by the federal government, and as such is eligible for funding, grants and tax incentives for redevelopment.
As explained in the film, in 2005 Dupree purchased and renovated a warehouse on Haverford Avenue, transforming a dilapidated building into classrooms and studio space. In December 2012, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority seized the deed to the studio with the intent to remove the building and replace it with a grocery store and parking lot. Dupree challenged the seizure and continued fighting for the next two years. In December 2014, the Redevelopment Authority ended its condemnation proceedings and returned the rights of the property to Dupree.
Dupree has exhibited his artwork nationally, and his work is included in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Art Museum, Columbus Museum of Art, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, among others. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art and Design, and he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts.
Filmmaker Sapienza enrolled in the Film and Video program at MCCC in the winter of 2010, and then in fall 2012, he transferred to the Film and Television program at Drexel University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in May 2014. He currently works with NFL Films. While a student at MCCC, he and fellow student Sean King created a documentary of the history of the College, “The History of Montco,” which was presented during the College’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Filmmaker Brown is a media production specialist with 20 years of experience in this field. He has worked in a wide-array of positions in media production from camera, editor and special visual effects to director, brand analysis, creative director, executive producer, etc. He started making documentaries in 2006 when he was a producer and editor of “Young Lives on the Edge.”
For more information about the James Dupree, visit http://jamesedupree.com/.
— Information submitted by Montgomery County Community College