Richard Lee Retrospective at Featherstone

Richard Lee channeled his vivid imagination into many of his works. — Photo courtesy of Lee family

This Sunday, Featherstone opens its doors for the Richard Lee Retrospective Art Show, an exhibit featuring works by Mr. Lee, an artist among many other things, who died unexpectedly in June of 2012.

A resident of West Tisbury, Mr. Lee created a lot of art, from elaborate masks, to furniture design and painting on glass — his signature style.

The show is curated by Mr. Lee’s wife, Claudia Cannerdy, and his son, Hudson Lee, who will be at Sunday’s opening reception, which runs from 4 to 6 pm. The show continues through October 6, from 12 noon to 4 pm daily.

The show’s setting is important, as Mr. Lee had a connection to Featherstone, which former executive director Francine Kelly described: “Richard Lee contributed his artwork to two popular shows at Featherstone and to the 2011 Artists Studio Tour; he had planned to participate in 2012 tour as well. In 2009 he contributed to the Art of Furniture show and 2011 he presented his work in the Art of Personal Altars. The pieces he presented were usually antiques and he altered the furniture to make a new and different statement. He always willingly explained his technique of reverse painting. His images were humorous, zoomorphic, fantastic, and other-worldly. He liked telling me about the fact that he once had his tea room where some of his creations were shocking to some and entertaining to others. He was amused by it all.”

In his words

The following is excerpted from “Words from the painter’s eye,” an essay written by Mr. Lee:

” For me, the basic ideas spring forth: art is that which inspires the truth of feelings concerning the history of a person’s life. This in turn affects the feelings in the future of a person’s life. The art picture becomes a house icon servicing the forces of inspiration through its decorative beauty and the picture’s ability to stimulate feeling patterns, which in turn, produce their own thought patterns. Some people happen to be in a state of conflict when they look at pictures. When people are in conflict their thinking comes first; the mind is occupied weighing ideas, out of touch with feelings from the heart. No thinking! You really have to look at pictures first before you can get in touch with your feelings about them.

You can think about it later, because there is a memory pattern which recalls the ideas of feeling. If a painting is doing its job as a house icon, it will mirror your feelings through a varied cycle of hormonal range; ever changing. So that is what I have always tried to paint; pictures which will do that. Pictures which are loyal to the feelings that come from the heart. Pictures that are painted from the combined histories from all our lives. Needless to say, this can’t be done in a singular painting. If it could I would still be working on a really big one. For anyone who looks at my paintings, I am happy for the inner culture of their feelings.

If I have a desire for the paintings in the future it is to stimulate the hearts of passion into greater tolerance and compassion for individuals and individual cultures. More laughter and more love is needed in our art in general and in our paintings especially. Paintings can have the power to instruct the heart. That’s why I paint them, because my pictures do that. Twenty-five years ago, when I painted the motto over the bathtub, ‘once upon a time is enough,’ I have become even more educated to the truth of the idea that, ‘once upon a time is all there is.’ Look quietly at pictures, be calm and see for yourself; it’s an ongoing history of feelings.

Richard Lee Retrospective Art Show, Sunday, Sept. 15, 4–6 pm, Featherstone, Oak Bluffs. With guest curators Claudia Cannerdy and Hudson Lee. Show runs through October 6. For more information, call 508-693-1850 or visit