Lee is my neighbor here in Johnson City, Texas. He is a painter. He is a workingman. Lee is of the painters that have much in common with carpenters and steel workers -- the kind of artist I always admired and wanted to become. There is something of the great WPA artists of the 1930's, Tom Lea and Thomas Hart Benton, in Lee's way. Lee is a Kid from Central Texas that went on a pilgrimage to Italy in search of art. He spent five years laboring in Italian factories and industry to provide for his searching in the land of Titian and Leonardo.
It is so energizing to have a vibrant atelier just across the street. Coming home at night with an amber glow illuminating a brace of charging horses or beautifully rendered, iconic buffalo in the window of his studio is a gift. There is a positive anachronistic energy and charm that pervades his place. His studio and home is housed in the old cinema building here in town. Walking through the door one is immediately transported to another time, another place. The ceilings are two stories high. The walls are covered with his wonderfully diverse paintings of horned toads and anatomical studies of women astride bold horses. There is much of Texas and much of the facility and way of the Italians.
As an artist it is humbling to watch with what ease he renders figures, land and architecture. I've sat next to him in figure drawing sessions hoping I will be able to close my sketchpad quickly as the model changes poses. We are very lucky to have Lee here in Johnson City. It is also a pleasant surprise to catch bits of conversation in Italian on my walks at our local park. Lee brought art and a beautiful wife, Sandra, back to Texas with him -- they also like to walk.