Guy LaBree, Dania, Everglades Transportation, oil on canvas board, 8 by 10 inches, signed lower right.
In the first grade at Dania Elementary School Guy Labree’s best friends were Seminole Indian kids. LaBree remembers Seminole Alan Jumper looking over his shoulder in the 2nd grade as he drew. In the post-World War II period, Florida still unspoiled, allowed LaBree and his friends time to spear fish, climb palm trees, sell coconuts to tourists and hunt snakes and alligators, some for sale at the local tourist spot, Monkey Jungle. La Bree graduated from South Broward High School in 1960. That summer, encouraged to pursue his talent in art by Broward High art teacher Harry Mallett, he and three other local artists started a Junior Art League, as a branch of the Hollywood Arts and Crafts Guild. A third generation Floridian, LaBree continued painting and developed a close relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Hollywood-Dania, absorbing their culture, religion, and history. LaBree spent 19 years as a lithographer producing Florida and Seminole related lithographic prints. In 1975 Judy bill Osceola, owner of the Okalee Gift Shop, invited LaBree to become the first white man to exhibit his work at the shop on the Seminole Reservation. It was not until 1980 that he had his first one-man exhibit. James Billie, chief of the Seminole tribe in Florida said, “There are many well-known artists who have attempted to capture…the day-to-day atmosphere of the Seminole Indians but failed to do so. Guy LaBree is a unique person in that he has lived with our people and had the rare privilege of exchanging intimate feelings with, and getting to know what it means to be an American Indian in the 20th Century.” Born: 1941, Dania. Died: January 1, 2015, Arcadia. Education: South Broward High School. Exhibits: Ringling Museum. Awards: Stetson Kennedy Foundation’s Fellow Man & Mother Earth award, 2011; Florida Folk Heritage Award, 2014.