Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Dukes of Hazzard" history inspires this artist and avid fan

We showed you in our March 29 post the talent of Canadian artist Jim Wilson, who paints up very nice "Dukes of Hazzard"-themed scenes. Well, consider today's post "part 2" of that, as we take a look at another talented artist out of Ontario. His medium is quite a bit more three-dimensional than the painted canvas. He's put together a beautiful diorama that chronicles an important event in "Dukes" history -- the recovery of the very first General Lee used for a jump in the TV series, from a home in Georgia many years after its 1979 debut. What's more, this artist, Jason Darling, is friends with Jim Wilson, and it's really their artistic collaboration that you see in the first photo below, with Jim's painting in the background.

If you recall the story, this famous Dodge Charger was found still wearing its blue, roughed-up "71" paint job from its appearance in the fourth episode of the show, "Repo Men," when it doubled as a Richard Petty car. It changed hands a few times after the recovery and has most recently been fully restored to the way it appeared as blazin'-orange, jumpin' "Lee 1" in the pilot episode.

"The idea for the diorama came when Jim and I were talking about it and he had started painting again," Jason says. "I, of course, had many spare Charger model kits so I started my project! I have always followed the 71 story and I was present when it was unveiled at Oxford College (near Covington, Georgia) at the 25th anniversary event by Mr. Bell and helped push it on and off the trailer."

He continues, "I have about 13-14 hours in building the model and have researched it for years. The gentleman who bought it from Travis even contacted me for facts about it before its restoration. I am strongly against 71 ever being restored; I think that was an atrocity."

"Jim Wilson and I pride ourselves in recreating 'Dukes' facts and pieces for each other's collections such as our HOGGOCO oil cans and my and Jim's gas pumps, to name a couple," Jason says. "If Jim and I put our collections together, we would have a very nice 'Dukes of Hazzard' museum."

As with a lot of "Dukes" fans out there, the show made a big impression on this creative fan that goes way beyond art. "My favorite character on the 'Dukes' while it aired will always be Bo Duke, and then Uncle Jesse. I live my life with Bo Duke in my back pocket, with Uncle Jesse's values."

That's part of Jason's collection below. "My favourite episode," he says, "is a tie with 'Happy Birthday, General Lee' and 'The Ghost of General Lee.' I loved the history behind the birthday episode and the emotion behind the ghost episode."

"Jim and I go every day finding new 'Dukes' things and keeping the show alive and honest; we are 'Dukes' cousins for sure," Jason says. "We have helped one another with our collections, and I've even gotten Jim started on some General Lee parts! LOL."

Jason, of course, has his own General. "I'm in the process of building my own second-unit version General Lee, going on five years now, but I'm proud of it. I have been extremely fortunate to attend many 'Dukes' events, and I've gotten to meet every living cast member, something I never would have thought I'd ever get to do four years ago, being that I live down in Canada. The cast of the show are amazing and friendly people."

Jason continues, "I met Jim through an ad on Kijiji looking for General Lee parts -- now we're best friends. Funny how 'Dukes' fans find each other."

Thanks to Jason for sharing his story and his fabulous art!

Photos courtesy of Jason Darling; please do not copy without permission.

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