The Artist Sees Differently: Sandy Lee

Sandy Lee, IT support specialist

Sandy Lee in front of his home display, “iconic 41,” 12 paintings for his wife’s recent birthday. Photo: Lisa Hasegawa

Were you an artist before you started to work at the Phillips, and how did you learn about the Phillips?

My father was the print shop manager for the US Catholic Conference, now the United Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Growing up, I had TONS of paper and pencils available as well as a light table for tracing my favorite images.  If you’ve seen the movie Seven Pounds there’s a printing press featured that was the same model my dad had in our basement.  I typeset my own business cards at the age of 12 (I think I was the only 6th grader with lead-type business cards, “Sandy Lee Artist-for-Hire”!) and in my teens began airbrushing t-shirts in high school.  I studied Art Studio at the University of Maryland College Park focusing on illustration.  I only learned about The Phillips Collection a few years ago when applying for the position of IT Support Specialist.

Do you feel you are inspired by the Phillips?

Absolutely.  This facility, and its rise from near disaster make me grateful that such a place still exists.  The works within still amaze me–it seems there’s always something new hanging from week to week.  I find myself going to more and more museums and evaluating them against the Phillips.  It’s such a great venue in which to view masterpieces. It really is inviting and personable.  After a near 20 year hiatus from painting, I decided to pick up the brush last year and produce the 12 canvases in the photo for my wife’s 41st birthday present.  We were both surprised.

What do you listen to as you paint?

Lady Gaga, metal, movie soundtracks, even podcasts of Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!.

Who’s your favorite artist in the collection?

Raoul Dufy.  His paintings remind me of the backgrounds painted by Philip DeGuard for the Looney Tunes Pepe le Pew cartoons!  Very whimsical and vibrant.

Do you collect other artwork – or anything?

I have a few lithographs, tons of comic books, and the Spectrum series of fantasy art annuals.  That all started with an inadvertent trip to the Society of Illustrators museum in New York City.

What’s your favorite Marjorie Phillips painting?

My favorite Marjorie painting is Night Baseball(1951). You can tell by looking at it how much she loved the sport.  I’m foremost an ice hockey player and fan, but I give full credit to women who appreciate sports.

-Rolf Rykken