Forty-three years ago, on the eve of the grand opening of the Carl Hammer Gallery at 620 N. Michigan Avenue, a first-time encounter with Chicago’s iconic street artist took place. Now, twenty-eight years since her passing, Carl Hammer Gallery takes a look back at the remarkable, inventive eye of one of Chicago’s most widely collected artists – Lee Godie.
It was in 1968, however, that Lee Godie, a homeless person, appeared on the steps of the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and began “hawking” drawings and painted canvases to the visitors of the museum. Proclaiming herself a “French Impressionist” and equal to the likes of Monet, Manet, Degas, and Cezanne, Godie established a ubiquitous presence throughout downtown Chicago. In whatever way it was that she wanted herself to be identified, she produced and sold her art while living on Chicago’s streets, establishing for herself and her artwork a distinctively significant presence. In evaluating her art production of several decades, as an artist and icon, it is impossible to separate the way she lived from her sense of urgency to create. Driven by her zest for life, her tough constitution to survive and sell her art on the street, Lee Godie creatively, successfully, transcended the unpleasantness of “living on the street” driven by a remarkable will, and a passionate and uniquely personal vision.
We are honored to present this exhibition in her memory and in celebration of her remarkably colorful life and achievement.