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(November 24, 2014 Henderson, NV) Internationally acclaimed artist, Annie Lee, known for her unique ability to celebrate African American culture passed away Monday, November 24th in Henderson, NV. She was 79 years old.

Annie Lee had a very special gift. She let her artwork do the talking.  She had the unique talent to paint a scene that captured people’s emotions. She lured you into her work with her wistful brushes of color. If her painting included people, you could hear them talking and laughing. If her painting had someone playing the harp or a saxophone, you could imagine the music. While Lee’s work featured African Americans, she really captured all Americans life from all angles.

Annie Lee’s signature of was to show images devoid of faces. Her subject’s body language and setting expressed strong feelings in a unique way that moved her audience.  Her most popular works included My Cup Runneth Over, Blue Monday and most recently a portrait of the first family titled Oval Office.

Over the decade, Lee has been a huge supporter of the Tom Joyner Foundation. Without hesitation, she donated her time and artwork to help the Foundation raise money to help keep students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  Her Higher Education: A Way to Soar painting celebrates the successes of the students at these HBCUs achieving great heights. Her White Night painting captures the elegance and whimsy of one of the theme nights on board the Fantastic Voyage, an annual weeklong cruise that is a huge fundraiser for the Foundation, where she was a regular exhibitor.

Born in Gadsden, Ala., Annie Lee was raised in Chicago She began painting at age 10 in elementary school, where she won her first art contest and received a free semester of study at the Art Institute of Chicago. She continued honing her artistic skills resulting in a four-year scholarship to Northwestern University. Lee did not resume painting until she was 40 years old.

By then, she had lost two husbands to cancer and raised a daughter from her first marriage and a son from her second. While working as the chief clerk at Northwestern Railroad, Annie studied art at night, eventually earning a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Art from Loyola University.

Lee worked during the day and painted at night. Painting became her refuge from the work that inspired one of her most famous paintings – Blue Monday. The painting depicts a woman struggling to pull herself out of bed on a Monday morning – a feeling Annie could relate to. Her dedication to her art proved successful when at her first gallery show in 1985 she sold all of her pieces within four hours. In fact, it was so successful that she allowed prints to be made from some of her originals to meet the demand for her work. However, Annie didn’t want to lose the security of her “day job” and continued to work for the railroad.

Later her painting My Cup Runneth Over became one of her most acclaimed storied pieces. Women of all cultures could relate to the story of a woman in a white dress sitting on a pillow next to a table with tea on it, and praying with an open bible in her lap

Her dedication and work paid off, establishing her as an iconic, internationally renowned artist.

Annie Lee will be missed. Her work will live on forever. She is survived by her daughter Davina Joy, her son Charles and a host of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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(Photo Source: Tom Joyner Foundation)

18 thoughts on “Annie Lee, Artist & Humanitarian, Dies

  1. Marilyn McKinney-McClendon on said:

    Annie was one of my favorite people who loved both me and my daughter, Meggan. I’m so sad that she’s gone. She’s painting for the Big Guy now who needed one more Angel! Rest in peace, my friend. I’ll love you always. Marilyn

  2. Annie Lee, my all time favorite artist. I hae collected her figurines, prints, light switch cover, throws, etc. for a number of years. The items will be cherished. R.I.P.

  3. Niaomi Spaulding on said:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Annie Lee on a vacation to Vegas, we toured her studio and visited her home. I will always remember her sweet spirit and hospitality. She will be missed by many.

  4. carol ford on said:

    As a friend of the family I am deeply saddened by her death. I loved this woman as one of my own family. I learned so much from this giant of a woman who never knew a stranger and never hesitated to spend her time sharing her stories about the artwork she created. My prayers go out to her daughterJoy and the entire family I know she is going to be truly misses. My what a woman, I loved he spirit so much, there will never be another person like Annie Lee.

  5. Reblogged this on Brothers Perspective Magazine and commented:
    Annie Lee has died.
    She was born and raised in Gasden, Alabama in 1935 and learned to knit, crochet and draw and began painting at age ten in elementary school. Soon after she he won her first art contest and received a free semester of study at the Art Institute of Chicago. Continuing to hone her skills she was ultimately rewarded a four-year scholarship to Northwestern University, but chose marriage and raising a family over attending school.
    Despite of her obvious love for painting, Lee did not pick up a paint brush until she was 40 years old. After losing two husbands to cancer and raising a daughter from her first marriage and a son from her second, Annie studied art at night, earning a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Art from Loyola University.
    Famously known for her faceless portraits, she is an icon to the world of African-American art Lee has earned her place among the great artists of our race.
    Like on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

  6. I was really sad to hear that Annie Lee has passed away …I use to do Annie Lee’s hair at her home here in Las Vegas . Anne called me her ” At home Hair Stylist ” .. Annie enjoyed me doing her hair and she enjoyed having girl talk on hair day . When I was done with her hair she be like ” You getting ready to go ???? she would say dont leave me yet and she would start showing me paintings that she was working on to keep me there and before you knew it 2 hours has gone by …( smile ) I will really miss her so much she was the sweetest dearest lady ever and the best artist ( there will never be another Annie Lee ) Annie I will miss you so much R.I.P. I Love U …( your Home Stylist )

  7. She is my favorite artist….When I first moved into my first purchased home 20 years ago, one of the first prints I received as a gift was an Annie Lee Print…I have cherished this for many years and since then I have collected a number of her prints that are displayed all over my home. My condolescenes to the family…Thank you

  8. specialt757 on said:

    “she is an icon to the world of African American art Lee has earned her place among the great artists of our race.” I definitely agree. I love her figurines, I wished I had discovered her long before I did. I have a small collections of her figurines. If anyone knows of a figurine for the “oval office” please let me know, I got to have it.

  9. I was so shocked when hearing this new I got up and went on her web site and called the # and the lady that I spoke to was just a shocked,she said it was her husband that died not Annie because she had just spoke to her yesterday.I am sorry for your lost and mine because I love Annies work may she rest in peace.

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