James E. Dupree: Stolen Dreams Exhibit and Film Screening

By Natasha S. RSS Thu, January 4, 2024

Join the Art Department on Saturday, February 3 at 2 p.m., for a free screening of the documentary film Broken Dreams.

The feature documentary Broken Dreams highlights artist James E. Dupree, his massive art studio in West Philadelphia, and the Mantua community. Dupree's studio had been threatened by eminent domain proceedings since the city seized his deed in 2011, as two major universities pushed their way into Mantua with student housing, urban planning, and gentrification. As the result of a long legal battle and social media outcry, James' deed was finally restored and he could continue to paint and display his artwork within the community. Produced and filmed from 2012–2016, the documentary follows Dupree's battle with the City of Philadelphia. 

Following the screening there will be a Q&A with James Dupree and film directors Tyrone Brown, Joe Sapienza II, and former assistant to Dupree, Abigail Henry.

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Dupree Art Studio


In conjunction with the film screening, James Dupree will exhibit artwork at the Parkway Central Library from January 2–February 29, 2024

Stolen Dreams: The Artistic Resistance of James E. Dupree in Philadelphia Eminent Domain Struggle follows Dupree along his pivotal period from 2012–2014, marked by the eminent domain battle Dupree fought against the City of Philadelphia and its gentrification efforts. Through a selection of original artwork, photographs, and archival documents from the Art Department’s artist research files, learn about the Dupree Studio of Mantua’s story and how through art and activism, Dupree was able to win back his deed. This exhibition not only celebrates Dupree's artistic legacy but also highlights the transformative power of art in the face of adversity, inviting visitors to witness the triumph of creativity over injustice. 

"You never think that it’s going to happen to you until it does. They take your property and dictate what it's worth ... After all my efforts building the space up and how it impacted the art community and the city at large ... It’s unconscionable and dehumanizing." - James E. Dupree

The exhibit will be on display on the Second Floor of the Parkway Central Library in the Art Department hallway. The exhibit is open to the public Monday–Thursday 9 a.m.–8 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m.–5 p.m.


James E. Dupree, Joe Sapienza II, and Tyrone Brown


James E. Dupree 

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, James E. Dupree began his career in 1971 and conquered all barriers within the art community between racism and critics of his artwork. For over five decades, Dupree has been a practicing fine artist in the city of Philadelphia. With exhibitions and residencies of national and international scope, Dupree has created a legacy within the world of fine arts and culture. His mediums include (but are not limited to) painting, mixed media, and sculpture. With 35 different series of works reflecting the life of a contemporary African-American Artist, Dupree’s art treads the line between politics, culture, and fine art. Dupree’s work is represented within the collections of public institutions, corporate, and private collectors, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Petrucci Family Foundation, the Schomburg Center, and the African American Museums of both Los Angeles and Philadelphia. 

Dupree holds a BFA from the Columbus College of Art and Design, and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, where he received "Living Legend" status. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, and was a resident at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Dupree continued his involvement with arts education and went on to teach at various universities, art centers, and fine art schools, such as PAFA, Crewe and Alsager College of England, Fleisher Art Memorial, and the University of Pennsylvania. 

Currently, James Dupree owns and operates two contemporary fine art galleries where he represents a diverse group of national and international fine artists. Dupree Gallery Philadelphia, in operation since 1982, is located at 703 South 6th Street in Philadelphia, PA. The newest location of Dupree Gallery is situated along the Delaware River in the vibrant small town of Lambertville, New Jersey, at 10 North Union Street.


Joe Sapienza II

Joe Sapienza II Is a freelance camera operator for independent films, and produced award-winning documentaries such as Centralia: Pennsylvania’s Lost Town, about an underground mine fire that destroyed a town of 1,500 people; Crash Burn Love, a documentary series about demolition derby and art; Reclaiming Pennsylvania, a young adult series on mine reclamation and environmental issues in Pennsylvania; and Broken Dreams, the story of Philadelphia renowned artist James Dupree who almost lost his massive art studio to the city’s land grab of eminent domain. Joe currently works at NFL Films, and freelances in sports for ESPN, CBS Sports, US Figure Skating, and on commercial projects with The Food Network, Spirit Halloween, and QVC.


Tyrone Brown

Tyrone Brown is a seasoned visual media production specialist with 25 years of experience in the field. His job description ranges from producer, director, editor, special visual effects designer, and much more. In 2006 he founded "Media International," a full-service visual media agency that created projects for companies including Nike, Prada, Cole Hann, Puma, etc. He has produced dozens of commercials and promotional video projects under this corporate umbrella. He has also created numerous documentaries in collaboration with various schools, and corporate and non-profit organizations. In addition, his broad spectrum of projects also includes creating media for music and entertainment acts around the world.

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Looking forward to the film.... my native area in north central, uptown area, same things happen as gentrify for the new comers
janice mane - philadelphia,, pa
Tuesday, January 30, 2024

I admire Mr. Dupree's art. His studio on South 6th St. is a treasure.
Lisa J. - Philadelphia
Friday, February 2, 2024