She Lived Mostly Outdoors On The Streets Of Chicago, Selling Her Unique Art To People Of All Walks Of Life

Oleg Podzorov - - illustrative purposes only

There are many iconic women who made an impact on American cities, women who, without their presence, those cities wouldn’t be the same.

Lee Godie, a famous art figure from Chicago in the 1970s and 80s, was one of those women. She lived mostly outdoors, selling her art to people of all walks of life on the streets and often giving them a memorable experience with her eccentric personality.

Since her passing, some of Lee’s work has made it from the streets to museums.

Lee was extremely private when it came to talking about her personal life and upbringing, but she was said to have been born in Chicago in 1908 under the name Jamot Emily Godee. She was one of 11 siblings brought up in a Christian Scientist household.

Several stories have been told about what Lee did during her younger years. While she said she had ambitions to be a singer in a nightclub, it is rumored she was once a telephone operator and got married in 1933. She had three children with her husband, George Hathaway, but two tragically died of illness at a young age.

It’s said that Lee moved to Washington in the late 1940s and remarried but ran away from her second husband after they moved to his farm, where she felt trapped.

There was a chunk of time when Lee went ‘missing,’ and her story became fragmented. But in the late 1960s, as she entered her 60s, she reappeared in Chicago, claiming she was a French impressionist artist and would parade around the famous Art Institute of Chicago.

When Lee began selling her artwork on the streets of Chicago, many of her customers were students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago who would buy them for $5 to $20.

She made drawings, watercolors, and paintings, creating art pieces on any material she could find, from traditional canvases to chunks of cardboard.

Oleg Podzorov – – illustrative purposes only

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