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Bonita & Estero Magazine

Can’t Stop Loving Hue

Sep 23, 2015 01:33PM ● By Corinne Moore
Lee Wilson, Jr. Inspired by Florida’s Lush Colors

By David Acevedo

The artwork of E. Lee Wilson, Jr. suggests a tropical life. It propels the mind right to the perfect Florida vacation, with colorful sunsets and lush palm trees that dance with the warm summer breezes. It may be safe to assume that the artist is projecting visions of his subtropical origins, but the creator of these vibrant images is from Nashville, Tennessee.

Florida has enchanted this man, who felt what it was like to swim in the warm waters of the ocean as recently as 2008. Captivated by the unique paradisiacal scenes of the place many of us are lucky to call home, he began to turn his new love of the coasts into the main inspiration for his body of work.

Boca Grande Palms Acrylic on canvasWilson began his art studies in 1978 at Murray State University in Kentucky. After three years, he decided to shift gears towards a degree in computer sciences from South Illinois University, which he finished in the early 1980s. Right after college, he began working as a freelancer for various publishing houses until the LaCie company hired him to produce all of its direct advertising.

Wilson for many years contemplated a return to fine art production. It would be a visit to the Florida Keys in 2008 that propelled him into the fine-art master he is today.

It did not happen overnight, but Wilson began producing artwork inspired by his visits to Florida, in particular the southwest area. The beautiful beaches of Sanibel and Captiva, along with the magnificence of our flora, helped the artist produce his first collection of pieces which he calls Troporganic. Acceptance in art festivals around Florida provided an audience for the artist, and he collected feedback which he used to build a solid body of work. In addition, the scenery of the subtropics enhanced his enthusiasm and love for his constant subject of water, sand and sun. “People here [in Florida] take these beautiful scenes for granted,” says Wilson, who in the near future plans to make southwest Florida his permanent home.

“The residents of Florida have this perfect weather, colors and inspiration all year long, and I am incredibly attracted to it all,” says the artist who uses sand and pieces of shells in his work. The result is an exciting mix of texture and color, enhanced by an added dimension to every piece.

Energy of Tropical Surf Mixed media on canvasThe artist’s approach to the Floridian sceneries has landed him the opportunity to be represented by the Sweet Art Gallery in Naples. "As a naturalist, E. Lee Wilson, Jr. offers a fresh approach to his mixed media on canvas artwork,” says Sweet Art Gallery director Linda Wilkes. “Using rich texture layered with organic material including sand, shells, and even shaved metal, Wilson pulls the viewer into his world of the organic energy he finds in nature."

Wilkes foresees the success of Wilson’s creations in the southwest Florida market.

During what Wilson describes as his art festival period, he acquired invaluable experience which he plans to use for his future artistic endeavors. The technique that the artist applied, even from the beginning of his production, attracted a steady clientele looking for the same inspiring scenes of a pink and blue vibrant tropical paradise, the sounds and feel of the eternal summer breeze, and the dance of the abundant palm trees. Needless to say, Wilson quickly became a prominent figure in the art festival world. This February, for instance, he was one of the fourteen artists with the Coconut Point Art Festival in Estero to be selected to display at the pre-show reception at the Val Ward Cadillac dealership in Fort Myers. The elite selection was made from a pool two hundred forty-five artist\participants at the event.

Wilson, however, is in the process of retiring from the art festival circuit. With new and prominent gallery representation in Florida, he plans to adopt a fine-arts role on a full-time basis. Alongside his life companion and business manager Cat Fenner, the pair plans to continue the growth of the art business and relationships with other established galleries in Florida.

We anticipate nothing more than solid success for this progressive artist. E. Lee Wilson, Jr. may not be a native Floridian like many of us, but his love for the natural scenery and beauty of our southwest Florida region has drawn and inspired the masterpieces that define his body of work.

We all look forward to more.

David Acevedo is a visual artist, curator, arts writer, former gallery owner and current manager of the Union Artist Studios on the campus of the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers.

Photos – all submitted by the artists, titles provided with the files.