Roy Lee

Roy Lee

Jonathan Ryan Lee was born as John Boyd Little in 1950. Jonathan exited the closet early in his high school years. This early exit made him an easy target for bullies. Jonathan found solace among fellow progressive art students at Northern Illinois University, where he received his B.A., Cum Laude, (1987) and his M.A. degree in studio art, painting, (1989). He was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the Golden Key Honor Society at Northern Illinois University. When he was of legal age, Jonathan changed his name to John Boyd Brandon. Most of Jonathan’s work was done under this name. Once it looked unlikely that gay marriage would become legal in New Mexico, Jonathan changed his name to Jonathan Ryan Lee, taking the surname of his partner, Roy Lee, of 33 years. Jonathon drew from direct experiences in his life to create most of his work. The source of the subject matter came from direct interaction with other people. The majority of Jonathan’s life had been compartmentalized in the sub-culture of homosexuality. Out since an early age and living where he chose to live, he had observed the simultaneous division and intermingling of the heterosexual and homosexual cultures. Jonathan primarily produced oil paintings and linoleum relief prints his work includes watercolors, intaglio, pen and ink, and pencil. In most of his work Jonathan has attempted to represent the intimacies, struggles, and psychological nature of various situations that have impacted his family members and friends, and that had shaped historical events. Some of his work is considered of historical significance due to its depiction of gay and lesbian issues during the 1980s and 90s. His works have been displayed at various exhibitions – Northern Illinois University, Joliet Junior College, Nicolet College and Technical Institute (Rhinelander, WI), Arc Gallery (Chicago, IL), McHenry County College Art Gallery, and Harwood Art Center (Albuquerque, NM); his works are on permanent collections at the Hauser-Ross Eye Institute (Sycamore, IL; Italian Restaurant, Transvestite at Dressing Table, Boy at Window, and Cats), and Kishwaukee Community College (That Angry Man), Northern Illinois University (various black and white linoleum relief prints), Joliet Junior College (Pears and Oranges), to name a few. Once Jonathan started to lose his eyesight as a result of type 1 diabetes, he turned to writing. Jonathan wrote two works of fiction, Appropriate Applause, and The Boy at the Window, a book of poems entitled Free Verse, Haiku: A Collection of Poetry, and a book on long-term gay relationships, Till Death Do US Part: A Look Inside Long-Term Gay Relationships. The day before he succumbed to cancer in June of 2011 Jonathan put the finishing touches on a screen play. Various pieces of Jonathan’s work and artifacts from his life were shown at the Harwood Art Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico in January of 2012.

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