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Dunlap, Loren

Dunlap exhibited at the James Hunt Barker Gallery.

Born in Indiana in 1932 at the beginning of the Great Depression, Dunlap spent his early years in both urban and rural environments.  He spent school months in a small factory town with the usual modern conveniences and trappings.  Summers, holidays, reunions and family gatherings were spent at his grandparents’ farm.  Like many Midwestern farms in the 1930s, the Dunlap family farm maintained the traditions and practices of the 18th and 19th centuries.  Horses were used for transportation and fieldwork.  Electricity generated by windmills powered the pumps and the radio that the family listened to during evening hours as they sat under the light of kerosene lanterns.  The only “modern” convenience at the farm was the 1929 Ford automobile reserved for emergencies and special occasions.  This combination of traditional and modern conventions that defined Dunlap’s early years helps one to understand Dunlap’s later work as an artist.

Dunlap received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana.  During his studies, Dunlap spent summers working at the Laurent School of Ogunquit, Maine.  After earning a Master of Fine Arts from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied and traveled in Europe on a Tiffany Grant.

From 1954-1958, Dunlap was on staff at the Herron Art Museum, the Laurent Art School and later at Newcomb College and University College in New Orleans.  During the next four years (1959-1962), he taught and helped develop the foundation curriculum for the Herron Art School.  In 1963, Dunlap was a guest lecturer at the University of California in Santa Barbara.  Two years later in 1965, he received a second Tiffany Grant and left the academic world to devote his full time to painting.

During his formative years as a painter, Dunlap trained and painted abstractly.  In the late 1950s, he began a series of imaginary landscapes that in turn led to a cycle of tree paintings done in California during the mid-1960s.  In both instances, the method and emphasis was to find images of nature in abstract situations.  This period culminated for Dunlap with a large mural done for the Blaffer Trust in 1965 in which flowers appeared for the first time in Dunlap’s work. 

Dunlap’s first years of painting in New York were spent exploring floral painting.  Initially paintings were done from prints and reproductions, then directly from nature.  This marked a break with the abstract method and the beginning of Dunlap’s interest in still life painting, which Dunlap pursued for the next 25 years.  His abstract training is reflected in his technical awareness of textures and surfaces, his balance of different pictorial spaces within a painting and his clever playfulness with compositional devices.

Most recently, a new subject matter has emerged in Dunlap’s paintings – portraits and figure compositions – a sophistication which is a natural extension of his exploration of the physical world.  Although the techniques remain unchanged, a keener sense of humor and a greater understanding of the fragile human condition add a new and intriguing dimension to Dunlap’s recent work.  The complexity creates a striking integration of nature, objects, patterns and humanity.  He has truly succeeded in making the ordinary extraordinary – a tribute to Lucretius.

Dunlap’s work is found in numerous private and public collections throughout the world.  He happily once again lives in an urban – New York City – and rural world – eastern Long Island.  He also continues to read and to think about “The Nature of Things.”