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New Milfordites take pride in grandson's career

Published 6:47 pm, Tuesday, November 20, 2012

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  • U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Grant Dupill heats a piece of metal over a fire as he prepares to bend it for one of his creations.

Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force Photo: Contributed Photo
    U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Grant Dupill heats a piece of metal over a fire as he prepares to bend it for one of his creations. Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Grant Pope, 86, of New Milford has been honored with a Bronze Star and numerous other medals for service to his country in Europe during World War II.

Yet for Mr. Pope and his wife, Sadie, the achievements of their grandson, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Grant Dupill, are very much a focus these days.

Sgt. Dupill, the son of the Popes' daughter, Doreen Dupill of New Milford, has carved his own niche, in a very different way, while engaging in his military career.

Following is a story written recently for a newsletter called "Inside Laughlin," by Joel Langton of the 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs office:

Laughlin Air Force, Del Rio, Texas -- By day he is a soft-spoken medical technician helping patients recover as he roams the halls of the 47th Medical Group but, by night, Staff Sgt. Grant Dupill becomes an artist as he transforms metals into works of art using several different mediums.

Some days he'll weld while on others he'll craft his work within the 2,000 degree fire of a smith's forge.

It takes considerable passion to drive someone to such lengths for their art in Del Rio where temperatures seldom drop below 100 degrees, to reshape metal in heat that redefines sweltering.

For Sgt. Dupill, it's about chasing his art, despite the temperatures, challenges or cost. He breaks his pursuit down into simpler terms: "I hoard and collect weird stuff. Then I build stuff with it."

The 26-year-old bachelor's journey to accomplished artist has been a five-year-long journey.

"I'd always wanted to but it had been cost prohibitive," Sgt. Dupill said. "But I had the time and money to pursue something I'd always wanted to, so I bought the equipment and got after it."

Learning how to weld, something that many go to school for years to learn wasn't easy.

"It was tough but I had the time," he said.

Even his learning method is as unconventional as his art.

"When I was trying to learn something new, I'd get a book or go on YouTube and watch a video, then come outside and try it," Sgt. Dupill said. "I'm lucky. I'm single, so I can dedicate all the time in the world to it."

It's not unusual for the Air Force sergeant to spend 40 hours in his garage during a week crafting objects while learning new techniques as he pursues his art.

"I get home at 5 p.m. so it's not unusual to come straight out here and get to work and then I'll spend all Saturday and Sunday working out here," he said.

His specialty is turning everyday items into lights. Even to the point that the television network PBS has used them for creating a theme on stage for nationally broadcasted concerts.

His light fixtures are in high-end galleries and shops throughout San Antonio as well. He's turned just about everything from gasoline cans to old roller skates into lights.

More than just lights, he recently showed off how he turned spare bicycle parts into a gift for a friend by welding the handlebars into the seat to create a deer's head.

However, he's quick to pass along credit.

"I can't really take credit for this. Picasso did it first," Sgt. Dupill said.

Not all of his inspiration is stolen from Picasso. Many "one-days," a term he uses for an item he likes but hasn't decided what to do with yet, litter his backyard. Some of his present "one-days" include a number of large silver discs of various size and a variety of pieces of metal waiting to be converted from junk to art.

The artist noted he sets the items where he has to regularly walk by them.

"Whenever I walk by it, it makes me think, what can I do with it," Sgt. Dupill said. "Finally, the idea will come to me."

Although he turns junk into funky art at home, it helps him keep his focus at work.

"It's weird, not many people do this but it keeps me sane," he said. "Whenever I see weird stuff, it comes home with me."