Happy shoppers filled the Panasonic Room on the second floor of the Paterson Plank Road facility as they toured the arresting ensemble of vibrant works. There were animated discussions about line, color, and tone, as practitioners as well as admirers of art lined up to purchase various pieces.What is noticeable, besides DePice's enthusiasm for art, is his absolute dedication to his students past and present, as well as to the Town of Secaucus. "Sales are excellent," said Doug's wife Marilyn, as she manned the cash register. "The community has always been very supportive of Doug as an artist. Secaucus is a very good place for him to work. This is the best town in the county for us." DePice, who is currently a North Bergen resident, said that he will move his family to Secaucus in the near future. "The people in charge [of Secaucus] make it a point that they care about public service - seeing the home and community as an extension of themselves," said DePice. "I've been watching it for 30 years and had to ask myself, 'Why am I not here?' "
Life lessons that endure
Secaucus resident Janna Gulino took DePice's classes while a student at the high school five years ago. She attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and now works as a graphic analyst in Pine Brook. She and her boyfriend, Stan Kolic, bought a few of DePice's paintings.
"[DePice] inspired me to do my art and apply to art school. He has a great sense of humor. With him, art was always fun," said Gulino. "He showed me that art was a good way to express yourself."
Kolic said it was his first time he had been to an art opening.
"This is great. I was never into art before. I can see how his work affected Janna's," said Kolic. Secaucus resident Fred Vogel said he graduated from SHS in 1985 and looks forward to when his 9-year-old daughter can take DePice's class. He said he bought an oil painting DePice did of the artist's studio.
"It reminds me of his greatness. The guy's a total inspiration - not just art but about life too," said Vogel.
Another Secaucus resident Rimma Mello, whose daughter, Julia, who graduated from SHS seven years ago, said she bought two paintings because "he can express woman's spirit and soul in a unique way with very intense colors and brushstrokes."
"I always tell my students about my life as an artist," said DePice. "I approach students by their individual brilliance. Each one can learn in different ways."
When DePice first applied to college in the late 1960s, he did not get accepted anywhere. But a new experimental school in Hackensack recently opened where students who were passed over during the application process could attend.
Known as the Edward Williams College, the two-year college offered associates degrees, with highly personalized instruction and guidance. The founder of Fairleigh Dickinson University, Dr. Peter Sammartino, began the unique school in 1964.
"I don't know if that arrangement is still the case, but I was one of the first graduates," said DePice. "It was there that I began to find myself. I eventually received a BA in art from Fairleigh Dickinson."
DePice went on the get a Master's Degree in art from New York University in Manhattan where he "felt self-actualized." He went on to get a teachers certificate from Montclair State University.
"I have a golden experience where my studio is an extension of the classroom," said DePice. "I believe aesthetics is moral training - the increased awareness of beauty refines your spirit."
Recently DePice, was awarded the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation grant. The foundation supports educational, cultural, social and environmental values "contributing to making society more humane and our world more livable."