Ernest Lee, rest in power

by Joe Courter

It was my pleasure to spend some time talking with artist Ernest Lee at the Thornebrook Art Festival this Fall, and it was sad to read of his passing on Nov. 27. Born in 1962 in North Carolina, he had an early touch with painting that grew later in life to a life passion after hearing of the famous Highwaymen and meeting one of them, S. M. Wells, who encouraged him to devote himself more to his art after seeing a painting Ernest had done when he was 15.

In addition to his own works, bright colors capturing the houses and landscapes of rural Florida life, he was a man generous with his time teaching and mentoring others, both in high schools and at Santa Fe College. Scholarships are being set up in his name so that his legacy will continue with future artists.

He participated in art shows and has art work that is exhibited in many galleries throughout the United States. In 2019 he was a winner of the Awards of Merit at the Santa Fe Spring Art Festival. In 2012 and 2013 he received an “Honorable Mention” in the Long Wood Arts Festival. In 2013, Ernest received the Stetson Kennedy Foundation Fellowman, Mother Earth Award as well as the Award of Excellence at the Old Florida Celebration in Cedar Key. His wife Gloria Lee will be showing his works at the annual Pine Castle Pioneer Days in Orlando this February 26 and 27, an event always attended and supported.  

He was a warm and loving man who embraced life fully with his love of art and history. He made a positive and lasting impression on those he met. A sudden heart attack may have taken him, but those memories and his art remain. Packs of his cards are available at Ward’s grocery store

The will be a major show commemorating his life and work at the main gallery at Santa Fe College in May and June 2022.

To learn more about Ernest Lee, visit his website at Those interested in buying his art can contact to arrange purchase. 

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