Black History: Special Delivery!!
Artist Annie Frances Lee (1935-2014) was born in Gadsen, Alabama and grew up in Chicago, IL. She began painting as a young girl and won her first art competition at age 10. Lee was offered a four year scholarship to Northwestern University after high school. However, she married instead and began to raise a family. Tragedy struck Lee with the death of her 1st and 2nd husbands with whom she had 2 children; a daughter and a son respectively. It would not be until age 40 that she would begin to pursue a career as an artist. Lee took night classes for 8 years to earn her masters degree in Interdisciplinary Arts Education from Loyola University. She also worked full time at Northwestern Railroad while going to school. Her employment with Northwestern Railroad inspired one of her most popular paintings, Blue Monday. The painting features a woman struggling to get out of bed on a Monday morning. Lee described Blue Monday as her “self portrait’.
Lee held her first gallery show in 1985 at age 50. The show was highly successful for Lee and she sold all her available pieces at the show within 4 hours. In addition to artwork, Lee also had some of her most popular paintings produced as figurines, dolls, and housewares. A hallmark of Lee’s artistic style, was that faces in her artwork were painted without features. Following the death of her son in 1986, Lee decided to pursue an art career full time. She eventually opened her own gallery, “Annie Lee and Friends Gallery”. Her own artwork as well as the artwork of friends was displayed there. Several of her paintings were part of the sets for popular shows and films such as 227, Coming To America and A Different World. The appearance of her work on these shows greatly increased her exposure. Lee died in Las Vegas on November 14, 2014 at the age of 79.
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