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City of Plenty

City of Plenty by Artist Lee Godie

We like to live surrounded by art. Periodically we move works around, and pull some out which haven’t been hung in a while. Last week I painted our bedroom and when the job was complete we decided to change up the art on the walls.

Over the years we’ve put together a modest collection of so-called folk art or outsider art or art by self-taught artists – call it what you like. It includes 2 pieces by an artist from Chicago named Lee Godie, born Jamot Emily Godie. Today we hung City of Plenty in our bedroom. We had to be very careful hanging this one as it has a very delicate “Tramp Art” frame.

Lee Godie was active as an artist from the late 60s to the early 90s. She made paintings and drawings and as well modified photos. According to Wikipedia, she lived on the streets, sleeping outdoors or in cheap hotels. “Godie had a unique fashion style and could be seen wearing different swatches of fabric wrapped around herself or fur coats that were pieced together. She also used her paint to transform her appearance, painting “big orange circles over each cheek” and painted-on eyeshadow”. She may be Chicago’s most collected artist. Beginning in the late 60s, she sold her works from the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago, and later moved to the north side of the city. Her work has been exhibited in many galleries and museums including the Smithsonian.

In 1991, Chicago’s Mayor Daley proclaimed September “Lee Godie Exhibition Month”. The proclamation in part reads (from Wiki):
“Now, Therefore, I, Richard M. Daley, Mayor of the City of Chicago, do hereby proclaim September 6-October 8, 1991 to be Lee Godie Exhibition Month in Chicago and urge all citizens to pay homage to a gifted artist.”

In our front hallway hangs our second piece by Lee Godie,

Painting by Lee Godie

We bought this painting at a Slotin auction as a portrait head, and much to our surprise, we discovered it was folded twice. You can see one fold just under her neck and the other just above her hairline. We don’t know if it was folded by Lee Godie or by a previous owner of the work. As you can see, we re-framed this piece unfolded, revealing it’s full history. What do you think? Was that the right thing to do, or do you think we should have hung it as we bought it?

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