The Serpentine Chain

The Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, Tennessee: May 19th-October 1st, 2017

Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia: January 18th – April 15th, 2018

Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, Alabama: May 13th– August 5th, 2018

Museum Center at 5ive Points, Cleveland, Tennessee: September-December, 2018

• A documentary film

 

My name is Alan Shuptrine. I am a watercolor artist living on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. With my wife Bonny, I own a fine arts gallery, with businesses of restoration, conservation, and crafting one-of-a-kind gold leaf frames. All my life I have wanted to paint a collection of thematic watercolors that capture the heart and soul of the Appalachian Mountain culture in a collaborative book.

My father, Hubert Shuptrine, a nationally acclaimed realist painter, partnered with James Dickey on their Pulitzer-nominated book, Jericho: The South Beheld (Oxmoor House, 1974). In the same vein, New York Times best-selling author, Jennifer Pharr Davis, and I will create a coffee table style book called I Come From A Place.

I am passionate about Appalachia. I grew up in more than 20 small towns along the Atlantic states, mostly in the South.  Following in my father’s footsteps, my genre is mostly southern and Appalachian. Over the past 30 years, my realistic paintings have won numerous national awards.  I am known for dramatic light and shadow in my paintings, as well as handcarved and gilded frames I make for artists, collectors, and museums. I have exhibited my works all over the country; and most recently, I was honored with a four-month-long show at the Vero Beach Museum of Art called In The Tradition of Wyeth: Contemporary Watercolor Masters.

I Come From A Place will be a unique and upscale large format art book which will explore and celebrate the connections between the people of Appalachia and their historical and cultural counterparts in the British Isles. This kinship can be traced culturally from the folk tales, quilt patterns, whiskey making, fiddle tunes, and speech patterns that can be found both in Appalachia and in Celtic Britain.

Serpentine Mineral
Mined from caves and cliff walls, the ancient Celts prized serpentine for its beauty and believed it held magical powers.

I want to expose the significance and irony of serpentine, a dark green and mysterious mineral vein that lies beneath the Appalachian Trail. The project will have a coming home theme: why people live where they live, and why they feel a kinship or spiritual connection to a certain area. When you ask people about this, they simply say “it just feels right” or “it feels like home.” If you ask anyone living along the Trail, “Where is your heritage?”, the majority of them will say English, Irish, Scottish, or Welsh. That’s because they are the offspring of the early British settlers who moved into the rugged Appalachians and stayed there, because it “felt like home”. But there is something deeper than home–a buried secret. Running from Springer Mountain, Georgia and ending in Maine where the Trail stops in Mount Katahdin, serpentine is sometimes just inches under your feet and at other times it’s a half mile deep in the mountain. Britain was once connected to the Eastern Seaboard millions of years ago. Continental drift pulled Britain away from our coast, and as the Atlantic Ocean was formed, the Appalachian Mountains were severed. Consequently, there is a matchbook vein of the same serpentine in the British Isles which snakes its way from Cornwall to Iceland to the Arctic Circle. So, when the 18th Century settlers moved into our Appalachians, they were actually coming home to the very same mountains (and to the very same serpentine) they had left an ocean away.

 

Go to the Kickstarter link and watch the video.
The second KickStarter campaign video

Click here to get to the 2nd KickStarter campaign to support the project!  The 1st KickStarter campaign was successfully funded here.

My interest in preservation and conservation of our wilderness has spilled over into my 30-year career. I’ve been an outdoorsman and sportsman all my life, from childhood days where I would pass the time climbing trees, to later enjoying hiking, fishing, and hunting. My wife and I have always supported the protection of our lands, and we are actively involved in The Tennessee Land Trust, The Lookout Mountain Conservancy, and we support the Tennessee Wilderness Act.

 

MIst and Lace, watercolor, Alan Shuptrine

Mist and Lace, watercolor, Alan Shuptrine
This is my chance to fulfill a dream: to leave a monument of Appalachian Mountain culture, celebrating their heritage and providing a visual testament to the land.

 

"Twisted", watercolor by Alan Shuptrine

“Twisted”, watercolor by Alan Shuptrine
For the last 20 years, our gallery has sold fine American art to private collectors and museums, including the works of my father, the late Hubert Shuptrine (1936-2006), who was nationally acclaimed and best known for his collaborative coffee table book titled Jericho: The South Beheld (Oxmoor House, 1974). Written by James Dickey, author of Deliverance, Jericho sold over a million copies in its first edition and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

 

Award-winning book, Jericho: The South Beheld

Award-winning book, Jericho: The South Beheld

Below is an image of one of my recent watercolors from the Trail titled Into the Clearing (Smoky Mountains, Tennessee). It is framed in one of my handcarved rustic surrounds with embedded serpentine stones and black mica

"Into the Clearing" with serpentine frame by Alan Shuptrine

“Into the Clearing” with serpentine frame by Alan Shuptrine

 

 

"Falling" by Alan Shuptrine, Hot Springs, North Carolina

“Falling” by Alan Shuptrine, Hot Springs, North Carolina

Below are images of my hiking companion, Captain, an AKC registered German Shepherd that my wife Bonny gave to me for my birthday this past spring. He is ready to start hiking with me and will be 7 months old this October !

 

Captain, my German Shepherd hiking buddy

Captain, my German Shepherd hiking buddy

We all know the Appalachian Trail is a rugged path stretching 2,155 miles from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME. It was used by the Native Americans for trade and travel routes. And, we’ve all heard stories of hikers and their grand adventures; however, I’m interested in something deeper: Celebrating the connections between the mountain folk of Appalachia with their cultural and historical counterparts in the British Isles.
I want to preserve these people and their way of life so future generations can become knowledgeable about the true people of Appalachia. As time progresses, so many of the “old ways” are being replaced with technology and a faster pace of life. I feel that in order to preserve this heritage, it needs to be captured in a respectful and timeless light, before it is lost entirely.

-Alan Shuptrine

 

 

"Eternal" by Alan Shuptrine

“Eternal” by Alan Shuptrine

You can read and listen to more about the project at the Nashville Arts Magazine, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Nooga, and Voice America.