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 Amy Freeman Lee  (1914 - 2004)

About: Amy Freeman Lee
 

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Lived/Active: Texas      Known for: landscape

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:


This work is comprised of information gathered and combined directly from obituaries, catalogs, family members and friends. It is compiled, edited and submitted by Carl R. McQueary, a collector, admirer and acquaintance of the late Dr. Amy Freeman Lee.

Dr. Amy Freeman Lee- Born October 3, 1914 and passed away on July 20, 2004.  Dr. Lee was a well-known and beloved Texas writer, a artist, and lecturer.  She was born to Julia Freeman and Joe Novich on Oct. 3, 1914 at Santa Rosa Hospital, and spent her early years in Seguin.  After her mother's death in 1918, her grandmother, Emma Freeman, adopted her legally.  In 1929 the family moved to San Antonio to enroll Amy in St. Mary's Hall.

Lee attended the University of Texas in Austin, Texas and graduated in 1934, as well as Incarnate Word College, San Antonio, Texas, where she went on to earn several degrees.

Dr. Lee's profound reverence for life was the guiding principle in her distinguished career as artist, educator and humanitarian.  She was married for three years to Ernest Lee, an aide to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower during World War II..  But as a teacher and humanitarian she touched the life of innumerable people, young and old alike.  A Quaker by choice, she described her spiritual convictions as based in the concept of reverence for the unity of life.

An internationally acclaimed artist, she had more than 1, 250 exhibitions of her work. She was widely exhibited and collected with exhibitions from Maine, where she summered for years, as well as from Ogunquit to Monterrey, Mexico, where she developed many lifelong friends.  She supported many literacy efforts and was a champion of the liberal arts.

As an prodigal artist, art critic, poet writer and philanthropist, she numbered many distinguished artists among her close friends, including renowned Texas  painter Kelly Fearing and essayist Loren Eisley, whose parable The Star Thrower she often cited in lectures and written work.  An early supporter of the Witte Museum, she was a founder of the San Antonio Art League, and later of the Texas Watercolor Society.

Beginning in the 50s, Lee served as a member of Incarnate Word College’s Fine Arts Advisory Council.  In 1973 she assumed the Presidency of the Board of Trustees of the college, a position which she filled until 1990.  During that time, she nurtured the college's theater, music and arts programs, even living for some years in the dorms, despite owning several homes here.  She also spent many years as Chairman of the Board of the Houston-based Wilhelm Schole International, created by Dr. Marilyn Wilhelm, and continued in that capacity to support the Wilhelm Schole International Teacher Training Institute.

She also was deeply involved with the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind, and funded scholarship awards there in addition to serving on the board.  She was a strong advocate of the Bexar County Humane Society, Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation and John Karger's Last Chance Forever refuge for injured birds of prey.  She was also a member of the International Women's Forum, the University Round Table.

Dr. Lee was also a charter member of the University of Texas College of Fine Arts Council.  She was an honorary member of the advisory committee of International Peace University of Berlin and Potsdam, Germany.  She amassed a superb collection of art by many of the leading contemporary artists of her day, and made important donations to the McNay, the San Antonio Museum of Arts and other museums.  Most recently, she was honored by the Museum of Art for her many contributions to the visual arts.

Although her life was lived largely in San Antonio, her creativity and intellectual prowess put her in the midst of many notable national and international artists, writers and statesmen.  She maintained these connections and remained in touch with friends and admirers from all walks of life.  A well-trained critic, she wrote for the Express-News and had a radio show on KONO for years.  But in addition to her art, her most influential outreach consisted in the literally thousands of lectures she delivered to groups throughout the nation, sometimes driving as far as New York or California to deliver lectures that invariably stressed her belief in the importance of art, civility, humane ethics and universal love.  Her self-deprecating humor and razor wit contributed to the effectiveness of her presentation, and she remained among the most popular speakers in the state, even when bouts of illness slowed her in the years prior to her death.

Her art and academic work was recognized hundreds of times by such notable organizations as The Texas Watercolor society, as well as earning dozens of awards by local San Antonio civic academic associations and State-wide groups.  In 1984, she was elected to the Texas Women's Hall of Fame. She was also a member of the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States, which conferred it's highest honor, the Joseph Wood Krutch Medal, on her in 1985, the same year she was the subject of the inspirational Reality is Becoming, a CBS documentary on her life and accomplishments.

In addition to the Krutch medal, her most treasured honors included the American Civil Liberties Union's Maury Maverick Award, a lifetime achievement award from the University Roundtable and the Imperishable Star Award, a lifetime honor conveyed by Wilhelm Schole International.  She received the first Living Treasure of San Antonio Award for Outstanding Achievement as Artist, Scholar, Humanist presented by the Center for Peace Through Culture. – The Woman That Makes a Difference Award presented by the International Women’s Forum in New York.  She was elected to Texas Woman’s Hall of Fame by the Governor’s Texas Commission for Women as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Ford Motor Company, the J.C. Penney Spirit of the American Woman

Her life was spent as an artist in service to the arts, education and humanitarianism. In literally thousands of public lectures, she routinely credited her grandmother for instilling in her an abiding commitment to give back to others the gifts she received early in life.

Many, many dear friends and admirer and private collectors who knew her and became close to her will never forget her characteristic sign-off: "I'm loving you."

Dr. Lee died peacefully, surrounded by close friends, at the age of 89.

 


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A San Antonio, Texas watercolor painter and lecturer, she has been a long-time prominent art figure in that state, especially in San Antonio where she continued to live.

She studied there at St. Mary's Hall from which she graduated in 1931 and then became a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin in 1934. From 1939 to 1941, she was art critic for the San Antonio Express News, and was also art critic on several radio stations. She was a teacher at Trinity University from 1954 to 1957 and from 1955 to 1957 at the San Antonio Art Institute. From 1969, she was a teacher at Our Lady of Lake College and has served as visiting scholar and lecturer in various universities.

She is a signature member of the Texas Watercolor Society and the National Watercolor Society.

Her work is in numerous collections including the University of Texas Museum at Austin; the Smith College Museum of Fine Arts in Northfield, Massachusetts; and the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. She has also had numerous solo exhibitions including at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville.

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