(LOS ANGELES, Feb. 11, 2008) - During the Chinese American Museum's annual Lantern Festival to mark the closing of the Chinese New Year, the exhibition "Sunshine & Shadow: In Search of Jake Lee," produced in cooperation with the Automobile Club of Southern California, will have extended viewing hours at the museum. Inspired visitors also will have an opportunity to create their own watercolor at art workshops or enjoy plein-air watercolor demonstrations with noted artist Tom Fong from the National Watercolor Society.
The Lantern Festival's watercolor art workshops and demonstrations, stage performances, book signings with authors Icy Smith and Oliver Chin will be highlighted from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, the museum's home.
The "Sunshine & Shadow" exhibit highlights more than 60 watercolors from the 1950s to 1980s including eight from the Auto Club's WESTWAYS magazine cover art collection by the late artist Lee, a highly respected but intensely private painter who embraced California city scenes and landscapes through his art.
Lee, an enigmatic painter who influenced numerous other artists in California for decades, has not been the subject of a major retrospective, until now. "Sunshine & Shadow" marks the first comprehensive and critical review of a prolific artist who embraced California landscapes and city scenes through watercolor.
Showcasing at the museum through April 13, the "Sunshine & Shadow" collection also features photos and letters offering more details of the artist's career and his family life, which he kept distinctly separate.
"Jake Lee is among the most well known and prolific watercolor artists of the 20th Century, yet we found very little published about his personal life as we researched this exhibition," said Dr. Pauline Wong, Executive Director of the museum. "We had no problem locating his art and his influence - it lives in collections throughout the state and in the hearts of his many students. But it was more challenging to find the man. We believe this exhibition will result in new appreciation for his artistic production and his influence."
Lee worked steadily as a commercial artist and teacher. His first works fell squarely within the California watercolor tradition. Lee said he wanted to be known as a California artist - not necessarily a Chinese American artist. "Lee's depictions of Chinese American urban spaces, such as Chinatown balconies and storefronts, became a commercially sustainable side bar to his landscapes and rural scenes," noted Matthew Roth, Auto Club historian. "The Auto Club's member magazine, WESTWAYS, commissioned cover paintings from Lee nine times from 1954 to 1978. The watercolors show his evolution into Chinese aesthetic traditions."
The museum is at 425 North Los Angeles Street in El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, across from Union Station. Regular hours are 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Tuesday - Sunday.