Portrait by: Gene Sasse 2012
Steady Vigilance | Acrylic on Canvas 2006

Stories from the Art: Duke Windsor

"Behind the scenes in every society, there are those men and women, from all races, that hold supporting roles working on our roads, buildings, automobiles, lawns, in the fields, patrolling the streets, and toiling on the battlefield.  They are the back bone to our daily lives. Unsung heroes.
...Though we see them there, we rarely ever look at what they do.They truly show us each and every day how life can be a struggle shown through their blood, sweat and fears.“

A productive artist, Duke Windsor’s work encompasses a wide range of subjects. Historical figures, a Japanese collection, en plein air pieces, a very well known and well received series called “Alley’s of North Park” along with more recent impressive abstract work; Duke is as prolific as he is talented. His present series “Men @ Work: Blood, Sweat and Fears” takes us on a journey we know all too well, the roadways and highways of our cities and streets.

Duke’s discipline and determination come in part from his background as a Marine sergeant and martial arts instructor. Before his military career Duke worked construction for a time and speaks of the satisfaction he felt “working with his hands.” Today he uses those same hands to create beauty and truth; crafting strong images of men and women in our work force. Using the same palette in each of these pieces, the colors and tones flow together to create a connection and continuity that helps us relate emotionally to the workers themselves. Duke has a great respect for these men and women and it shows in the details of his art.

“I hope the viewer will see these individuals as people after the series, rather then obstacles to maneuver around” said Windsor.

Showcasing the vibrant oranges and conical patterns we’re all familiar with when we think of construction work, it’s the people that stand out. The colors and shapes a mere window dressing. With several canvases in process, he talked about his work, eyes traveling from piece to piece; he stated “the color orange, it kept hitting me. It was such a contrast to everything else around it. Vibrant... I need to translate that feeling onto the canvas. These are the people behind that color, every last person is working behind the scenes on the infrastructure. I want to do something that honors these people.”

He relates to the series personally, as he feels a debt to the men and women who stand and defend, whether it be in Afghanistan as a part of our military, an officer with a badge, or a man or woman standing on the highway, flag held in hand - their only protection from passing motorists’ neglect or momentary distraction. We see these individuals often as things to avoid; Duke sees them as individuals with dignity, standing in potential harms way while doing a good days work.

“At one time, as a society we had more respect for city workers” he said, “this series will pay homage to these people, these unsung heroes of our workforce.”

Patchwork | Acrylic on Board 2013
Men @ Work I | Acrylic on Board 2006
Curator: Gene Sasse
Writer: Laurie Morrison
©2013 Inland Empire Museum of Art
All Art © by The Artist