A B O U T L E E
Lee Baxter Davis was born in Bryan, Texas on the 20th of October in 1939. He enlisted in the regular army out of high school and served in Korea after the cease-fire with the 31st Infantry Battle Group as a medic assigned to B Company of that regiment. Afterwards, he attended college and graduated with a master’s degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. His best friend in both undergraduate and graduate school was James Surls, a now internationally recognized sculptor who was also a Texan.
Lee taught fine art graphics at East Texas State University (now Texas A & M Commerce) for over thirty years. He obtained the rank of full professor and was chairman of printmaking. Now retired, Davis serves St. William the Confessor Catholic Church in Greenville, Texas as a deacon, having been ordained to the Order of Permanent Deacons for over thirty years. He has been married to his college sweetheart for over 46 years and has two adult children and nine grandchildren. He works in his studio at home most evenings and afternoons.
His prints and drawings have been exhibited throughout the United States and are included in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, the Contemporary Museum of Art in Houston, Texas, the Arkansas Museum of Fine Art in Little Rock, and the Haas Private Museum and Gallery in Munich, Germany. His work has been reviewed in such magazines as “Art Lies” and in web sites such as “Hungry Hyena" and “Art Cal.” Recently, due ultimately to the efforts of such artists as Greg Metz, Vernon Fisher, and Gary Panter, his work was exhibited at the Cue Foundation in New York City. Until recently, he was represented by the Clementine Gallery in Chelsea, lower Manhattan. In March of 2009, Mr. Davis was one of four artists representing the four major geographical areas of Texas in the Texas Biennial in Austin.
Retired from teaching and without a gallery, Lee’s vocation remains that of husband, father, grandfather and Catholic deacon. He is a collector of old firearms and draws pictures, the images of which are derived from his recall of "time turning back on itself". Lee Baxter cannot remember when he first started making pictures. When he was three years old his grandfather showed him how to draw chickens. This opened the door to the possibility of art and the “picture show” of the mind, the making of such was and is his avocation.
A B O U T T H E W O R K
"My drawings are compositions of recall. Remembering is a montage. To remember is an act of imagination, usually spontaneous and once the drawings are started they take a life of their own. As a boy living in Karnack, Texas, I now recall the rabbits of that place. I remember other things of that time, but let us focus now on the rabbits. There were two kinds of rabbits in east Texas: cottontails and what we call swamp rabbits. The swamp rabbits were larger than the cotton tails, more illusive. In my mind these larger swamp hares were the mystics of the rabbit world - the “John the Baptist” rabbits. On the other hand, the cottontails were often seen grazing. As you drew near to them, they would raise their heads and sit stock-still, their large unblinking eyes, all-seeing as icon eyes. In contrast to these little rabbits are the jack rabbits that resided around Giddings in central Texas. They were gangly hicks that lived in the land of heat waves and would run down the rutted roads using only three legs, saving the fourth hind leg for when real speed was required. To remember is an act of imagination that is like shutting the segments of a spy glass. Can you see the ship's captain closing his telescope with a snap in an old black and white movie? The segments of the extended glass close upon themselves as time fades out into something that is … well, let us say eternity - or if not that, at least some kind of existential pause. This existential moment is what I try to capture in my drawing. To see with this inner eye requires a certain discipline of mind, a calmness that accepts that what you are looking at is running away on three legs. When I draw I am aware that memory is at best faulty and that it will always get it at least slightly wrong. Yet at each sighting there is formed a vague shape, an image, a segment of the montage. The drawings are a kind of history that is always “getting it wrong.” In their inaccuracy there sneaks into the picture a kind of truth that is hard to discover any other way, a cloud of unknowing “no bigger than a man’s hand.” I attempt to create a segue that springs from private sensory recall of a psychological landscape. This psychodrama stage is usually populated with various persona engaged in ritual activity, hidden alters and unhidden weapons along with animals often flanked by flowers and other plants. Fish and birds, both symbolic of the well known “cosmic ship” can be found scattered here and there. My juxtaposition of images of tranquility and turmoil, virtue and temptation, holy and profane are recalled swamp rabbit mysticism, tainted as always by my own shortcomings and grazing eyesight."
-Lee Baxter Davis