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 Hubert Shuptrine  (1936 - 2006)

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Lived/Active: Tennessee      Known for: portrait, figure, genre

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An example of work by Hubert Shuptrine
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Shuptrine at first wanted to become a veterinarian but changed his major after observing a studio art class in college, and graduated in 1959 from the University of Chattanooga with a bachelor's degree in fine arts painting.

He earned numerous awards as an abstract oil painter in the 1960's and taught himself watercolor painting during an extended family vacation to Maine, in 1970.  From then on, he began chronicling the South and its people in images rendered in watercolor.  He traveled back roads, becoming the chronicler of  the Old South and its threatened way of life.  He collaborated with the Southern storyteller James Dickey in the 1974 book publication  Jericho: The South Behold, and published another book Home to Jericho, in 1987.

About watercolor painting he said: "It is often hit-and-miss.  I have startovers and failures. I fact, I estimate that nine out of ten end up in file thirteen.  And some paintings are pure accident."  Yet he persistet, working in watercolor for four decades believing, the freshness and intimacy of a watercolor could not be achieved in any other medium.

Shuptrine's work is in the permanent collections of over 50 national museums, including the Brandywine Museum in Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania, and the Butler Institute in Youngstown, Ohio.

Sources include: essay by Martha R. Severens, Curator at the Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, South Carolina; Alan Shuptrine Fine Art

Biography from Shuptrine's Gold Leaf Designs:
Hubert Shuptrine was an artist focused on depicting America’s heartland, its people, its traditions, and its landscape.  Whether focusing on the pattern of creases in a timeworn face, the tiniest strands of whiskers in a bristly beard, or the uneven rhythm of weathered boards on the side of an old cabin, Shuptrine intends to penetrate the surface of his subjects to reveal their inner spirit.

In depicting people, he saw his images more as a form of visual biography than as portraiture.  His goal was to reveal in all his subjects “the sum of moments – past, present, and future infused into a single glance.”

Shuptrine’s brushwork ranges from broad washes of subtle color to a dry brush technique characterized by tiny strokes of tightly controlled pigment.  He said this technical variety enabled him to render broad atmospheric effects such as mist, laden skies, or morning light spilling through a window as well as intricate details and textures.

However, his realistic technique is in no way intended to diminish the expressive power of his paintings.  As Shuptrine explained, “I don’t think of myself as a realist because if you look up that word in the dictionary, it is one who paints with precision without regard for ideology, feeling, or the potential of meanings.  I refer to my works as ‘realizations’ because I like the subjective part of painting as much as the objective part of painting. I like to be involved with my subjects so that what I am painting is emotion as much as surface appearance.”

A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, born in 1936, Shuptrine held a degree in fine arts painting from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  Shuptrine lectured to a wide range of audiences.  In 1974, he published his first book Jericho: The South Beheld, which sold nearly 200,000 copies. His second book Home to Jericho (1987) also was well received.
Note added April 2005:
Congratulations to Mr. Hubert Shuptrine:
Hubert Shuptrine is one of seven Tennesseans to win the 2005 Governor's Awards in the Arts. According to Rich Boyd, executive director of the Tennessee Arts Commission, these awards are considered the state's highest honor in the arts. Susan Pierce, of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, writes that "the Distinguished Artist Award recognizes exceptional talent and creativity in any discipline, honoring artists whose work has influenced directions and trends on a state or national level."

Additional note:
Press Release, April 7, 2006:
Renowned artist Hubert Shuptrine passed away Friday, April 7th, 2006 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  He was surrounded by family and friends and leaves behind a legacy of supreme artistic ability and a passion for what he referred to as “realizations.”  While collaborating with James Dickey on the award-winning book, Jericho: The South Beheld (Oxmoor House, 1974), the author had this to say about Hubert Shuptrine:
"Hubert Shuptrine works in watercolor with a beautiful sense of the sheer, living consequentiality of his subject and with a skill that makes every picture an event to be reckoned with.  He is a Beholder.  He is able to enter into objects and people and places with the sense of these things entering into him."
James Dickey, Jericho: The South Beheld.

Posthumous Exhibition:
May 27 to August 13, 2006  Realizations: The Art of Hubert Shuptrine, The Morris Museum, Augusta, Georgia

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