Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Late Gainesville folk artist is being honored at Santa Fe College

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) – To some, he was the “Van Gough of Florida”, to others he was a teacher or a husband.

Regardless, Earnest Lee had an impact on many in Gainesville in the form of folk art.

“I looked at him and said wow he looked so happy and that was the only thing on his bucket list that he wanted to do,” said Earnest’s wife, Gloria Lee, who knew that one thing included seeing a Van Gough painting in person.

This happened just moments before Earnest died from a heart attack in November of last year.

“All I know is that day my husband was so happy. He had fulfilled something he had wanted to see,” said Gloria.

Since that day, she made it her mission to continue his legacy through the form of art.

Last month she collaborated with Santa Fe College to display his collection of artwork as well as an exact replica of his studio space on the day he died.

“This was the last painting he was working on. When we were coming back home he said he was going to put in a couple of birds and sign it,” said Gloria.

Earnest was an instructor at Santa Fe and also taught younger artists at The Caring and Sharing learning school and the Star Center theater.

Paintings inspired by Earnest’s teaching line the walls of The Star Center to this day.

“This young man came to Gainesville and took Gainesville by storm,” said Angela Terrell, coordinator at The Star Center theater. “He just loved pouring into kids and all the paths he has crossed, they will never forget it”.

The exhibit titled “The Best is Yet to Come,” will have a closing reception this Friday at Santa Fe, where Gloria will be selling some of his work.

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