By Angela Gonzalez, Curatorial Intern
Hughie Lee-Smith was born in 1915 in Eustis, Florida to parents who were recently divorced. His mother, an aspiring singer, moved to Cleveland leaving Lee-Smith to be raised by his grandmother in Atlanta. His grandmother wished for Lee-Smith to grow up educated and cultured. As a result, she limited the places he could play and people he could befriend. These events in Lee-Smith’s childhood years would lead him to artistically and philosophically investigate the human need for belonging once he began his journey through adulthood.
Lee-Smith creates psychological landscapes embodying loneliness. Due to a childhood fascination, he includes elements from carnivals, festivals and circuses. He was never allowed to attend the celebrations and his longing for participation is reflected in his works. End of the Festival recalls his childhood frustrations. He paints an isolated boardwalk surrounded by water as ominous clouds engulf the sky. Red streamers attached to posts blow upward towards the sky. A male figure stands in the front, looking to the rocks below. In the distance stands a second figure. Both bodies disconnected from their surroundings which reflects the detachment felt by the artist as a child. As a new acquisition to the permanent collection of The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, End of the Festival is an emotionally moving painting full of the artist’s mournful intensity.