Eye on Artists | PostIndependent.com

Eye on Artists

Submitted PhotoCalvin Lee's "Hania." Lee's work is on exhibit at The Artist's Mercantile through this month.


Why decorate life with ornaments when you can recreate it with art? Most representational and abstract art is the pretty stuff you can use to decorate your living room wall. Rather than just be pretty or technically proficient, I try to convey a thought or feeling ” solitude, vastness, pilgrimage ” through the expressive use of line, space and color. I prefer to make the brush dance rather than be compulsive about detail. There is no perfect beauty without some weirdness in its proportion.

I was born in 1947 in San Francisco, son of parents who immigrated from China when they were 12 years old. I grew up working in my parent’s grocery store before there were Safeways.

Self-taught, plus a lot of books and a few classes.

Represented in the past by the Lucas Gallery in Telluride, the Metaphor Gallery in Aspen, the Flying Crane in Frisco and the Loeb Gallery in Park City. Currently have works at the Artist’s Mercantile in Glenwood Springs and the Creator Mundi Gallery in Cherry Creek.

Married to Dr. Lisa McKenzie, an environmental chemist.

I wanted to go to the Brookings Institute of Photography, but my parents said it was a frivolous occupation and wouldn’t pay for it. So I enrolled in an architecture program. I got a D in art my first semester so I dropped out and got a degree in Oriental studies. Then I went into the Navy. When I got out, my brother was graduating from medical school, so because of sibling rivalry I decided to go to law school. I have been a lawyer since 1975. Thirteen years ago, I went to China with my parents to find each of the houses in which they were born and raised until they came to America in the 1930s. While in China, I bought a calligraphy set of brushes and ink. For the next 10 years I dabbled with calligraphy, once in a while giving away my work as birthday or Christmas presents. In November of 2000, I brought some photographs and four pieces of my calligraphy to a shop in Carbondale to be framed. The framer was also an artist and gallery owner who immediately recognized the artistic quality of the calligraphy. Six months later, he asked me to create a mountain scene and so I started to paint landscapes in watercolor and acrylic. Then I got interested in figure drawing with chalk.

Climb mountains, backcountry ski, swim, archery, read, and political and social activism.

What’s your favorite medium? Ink, watercolor and chalk.

Who’s your favorite artist? John Singer Sargent and Wu Guan Zhong. But we are all artists. Not long ago, everyone sang. Now we only listen to people sing. Everyone used to be an artisan or craftsman. Now there are only Artists, with a big A.

My parents, the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and recently, Rosa Parks.

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