The rural southwest Florida town of Arcadia has a hidden treasure a few miles from the Peace River. Nestled among the pines,
palmettos and oak trees lives an exceptional artist, Guy
For the past 30 years he has produced oil paintings which allow people to glimpse, through visual means, the history, legends and
mythology of the Seminole Indians, Few white men are privy to
the information LaBree has received from tribal members over
the past five decades. Alan Jumper, a childhood friend from the
reservation, encouraged him to paint the Seminole lifestyle.
He was invited by Judybill Osceola, the manager of the arts and
crafts store on the Hollywood, FL Reservation to offer his paintings
there; the first white man to have that opportunity.
Guy's first art patron was James Billie, an alligator wrestler who was subsequently elected tribal chairman of the Florida Seminoles.
He added more than 3 dozen paintings to his collection during
his 5 terms In office. He also sponsored LaBree's first one-man
art show and, more Importantly, introduced him to the tribe's
elders, medicine men and storytellers. This enabled Guy to interview
them over the years.
To ensure accuracy, LaBree's many Seminole friends gave him insight and approval when requested. Chairman Mitchell Cypress and President Moses Osceola have collections of LaBree's work.
Guy LaBree grew up in Florida in the 1940's and 50's,
where Seminoles lived at the Hollywood Reservation in thatched
roof chickees and dressed in unique, colorful patchwork decorated clothing.
He and his native schoolmates exchanged cultural information, which
continues to this day,
According to James Billie, "Guy LaBree is probably
as much a Seminole as anyone around here. Other artists never get the
feeling for Seminoles that Guy captures." Through his empathetic
nature, he recreates the Seminole warrior, medicine man, mother or child.
His creative ability allows him to understand other dimensions formed
by the myths in the unconscious mind of others.
By way of his brush come awe inspiring, sense arousing, dramatic scenes on canvas.
The fine arts critic; Ellen Kovan wrote, "The rich culture and
ancient ways of the Seminole Tribe spring to life under LaBree's careful brush
strokes. He researches and cross references all the details in the
finely tuned oils. It is this integrity that imbues the work with
a sense of realism that deeply touches the viewer. The visual
impact of LaBree's work can't be overstated. Since he began painting,
LaBree has created a body of work that will remain a testimony
to a populace which made an indelible mark on Florida history.
His work serves as a lasting tribute to them."
Pat and Guy LaBree
LaBree entered his first sidewalk art show in 1973 in Australia,
Ten years later, he began his full time painting career back In the USA, when he and his wife, Pat, moved to Arcadia.
Self-taught through private studies, he has enhanced the originality and content of his work to a master's level. Two New York art curators from the Whitney and Metropolitan Museums recognized
LaBree's talent and chose his work to be displayed in juried shows.
In June, 1994, he was one of a few select living artists to have
a 3 month exhibit at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. The
highlight of Guy's career was to be entrusted with Seminole medicine
man Sonny Billie's vision that was part of the grand opening
display of the Seminole Tribe exhibit at the National Museum of the
American Indian in Washington, D.C. in 2004.
You CAN view this video by clicking and WATCH on VIMEO
This is Mr. Guy Labree last interview. Unfortunately he passed away about a month ago. His wife and himself invited my friend Luis Pacheco and I to shot a interview in his house. Mr. Labree talks about his wonderful life he had as a painter and about his friendship with the Seminole Indians.
May he RIP.
For information or to order artwork,
please call (863-494-4207), or write