El Principio: Drawings 1975 – 1985

lq_v1Raymond and Carmen Quinones were among the first residents to move to the newly-constructed Alfred E. Smith Houses at 10 Catherine Slip in 1954, where they raised four children in a three bedroom apartment on the 15th floor.

Both natives of Ponce, Puerto Rico, they met on the island after Raymond, a World War II veteran, returned from U.S. Army service, and married in 1949. With the advent of opportunity in the work force and affordable airfare, they joined the wave of more than 25,000 Puerto Rican immigrants who came each year to New York after the war. By 1955, nearly 700,000 Puerto Rican were living in New York City. In 1960, Carmen returned to Ponce to give birth to her youngest son, Jorge Lee Quinones. Lee and his mother reunited with his father and siblings in Manhattan one year later.

The Smith Houses are the southern-most projects in lower Manhattan, referred to as the “Lower Lower” by the local population, bordering Wall Street, the financial capital of the world. Lee grew up with the best view in town at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. He awoke to the New York City sunrise from his bedroom window facing east, and watched idyllic evening sunsets from the west-facing window. It was in this apartment, that he began to cultivate his artistic skills.

By the 1970s, Lee’s childhood neighborhood, once a vibrant hub of Italian, Irish, and Puerto Rican culture, had completely deteriorated. As a teenager, he responded with a series of abstract color and black and white drawings that became templates for his paintings on MTA subway cars. The figurative subjects of the drawings were inspired by Marvel and DC Comics, while conceptually, Lee drew from the issues he was surrounded by in the buildings referred to as the Dark Side — fear, poverty, politics, addiction, environment, and the hypocrisy of organized religon.

For El Principio Lee shows 24 original full-color works in their native environment – the very apartment he grew up in and where his mother resides. Nine of these drawings were developed into whole subway cars on the IRT #5 and RRs. Iconic pieces such as the “Heaven is Life, Earth is Hell” car that Lee constructed in 1977 depict the essence of Lee’s emerging talent as a painter.

These works were schematics for Lee’s prolific subway masterpieces, which ultimately provided the impetus for creativity as a means for survival among destitution. He has saved hundreds of drawings from this era, when his burgeoning art career took shape over a decade on the New York transit system. Lee intends to reveal the entirety of these works in a future career retrospective.

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Published by admin, on November 22nd, 2009 at 9:41 pm. Filled under: HERESAY,Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Lee Quinones Auctions Automobile Ford Flex for Urban Playground

Ford Motor Company will auction a 2009 Ford Flex art car, Lee Quinones’ “Only in New York”, at the Barrett Jackson auto auction in Las Vegas, Nevada Saturday, October 10, 2009. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Urban Arts Partnership and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Ford Flex has staked a claim on the streets as a true American original.  So has Lee Quinones.  He emerged from the New York City subway art movement in the 1970′s to international prominence in the arts and in popular culture.  Appearing and starring in important films like “Wild Style”, his work is part of the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum, the Groningen Museum and the Museum of the City of New York.

“Only in New York” is Quinones’ vision of the Ford Flex as an urban social gallery, a reflection of both modern day New York and folkloric aspects of Big Apple culture.  The exterior of the Flex art car is hand-painted using spray paint and clear coats.

The hood of the vehicle shows a typical New York street filled with those chasing success.  The driver’s side pays homage to the constant movement of the city that never sleeps.  The passenger side presents imagery of the controversial and tumultuous activity of the economy that is rocking the city and the chaotic images of the past decades that created cultural dynamics.

Features include a hand-painted center console, a band of poetry on the doors and headrests featuring the renowned “LEE” signature tag.

The “Only in New York” Flex was commissioned by Ford along with Automobile Magazine to express the diverse nature and customization possibilities of this groundbreaking new crossover.  Unveiled at SEMA in 2008, this art car was instrumental in the naming of Flex as the SEMA Design Awards “Most Accessory Friendly SUV”.

All proceeds from the sale of this car will be donated to two great organizations:
Urban Arts Partnership strengthens public schools by providing arts-based solutions to urban educational issue. Lee has taught courses to students at this New York City non-profit.

A portion of the proceeds will also go to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) which is dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes.
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