The best is yet to come: Works of Mr. Ernest M. Lee

Opening reception: Friday, May 13, 6-9pm
Santa Fe College Art Gallery 
3000 NW 83rd Street, M-147, Gainesville

A retrospective exhibit of the works of local folk artist Ernest Lee will be held in the Santa Fe College Art Gallery from May 16 through June 17.

Lee was a decorated and prolific artist depicting colorful scenes of rural life in North Florida, as well as the childhood memories of those he knew. A staple of the Gainesville art community, his work was featured in numerous exhibits and festivals around the region. 

He grew up in North Carolina, where he learned to love painting as a youth through an art class in high school. He explored many different paints and techniques, but fell in love with painting country houses with oils. 

After moving to Gainesville, he was a regular instructor for both Santa Fe College’s Community Education and College for Kids programs. He also exhibited his art at the annual Spring Arts Festival for many years.

Lee has been referred to as Florida’s Van Gogh, because of his robust impasto style with rich and vibrant colors.

In 2019 he was a winner of the Awards of Merit at the Santa Fe Spring Art Festival. In 2021, he won the Judge’s Choice award for the 40th Annual Downtown Festival & Art. Lee died on November 27, 2021.

Notecards of his paintings are available for sale at Wards Supermarket in Gainesville, the Cottage Gift Shop in Longwood, Ashley’s corner in Mount Dora, and Wren Wood Aniques in Mincanopy. His prints can be seen on his web page at

An opening reception will take place on Friday, May 13, from 6-9:00pm. The Gallery is open Mondays through Fridays from 10am-4pm. Admission is free.

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