The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Spring 1988, Volume 34, Number 2
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor
Leslie and Melicent Lee: Artist, Author and Friends of the Indian
This photograph of Leslie Lee recalls one of Melicent Lee’s humorous poems about her husband: “Old man crochet was a crafty man, he ate right out of a frying pan.”
Melicent bird watching.
Interior of the Lee home in New York City. On the mantle are some of the artifacts Leslie Lee collected on his travels, as well as the Spanish armor he received from an aunt when he was a child.
Melicent Humason Lee, probably at the Lee farm in Berlin, Connecticut.
For the Junipero Serra Museum dedication pageant on July 16, 1929, Leslie (far left) and Melicent Lee recreated an Indian Rancheria in Presidio Park with the help of their Indian friends.
A picnic honoring Maynard Dixon at the Lee’s ranch near Dehesa in 1938 was attended by many members of San Diego’s art community. Left to right: Thurston Field, Mrs. Wm. T. Johnson? (in hat), Mrs. Charles Reiggel?, Melicent Lee (foreground), Charles Reiffel (standing), Lela Titus, Blasa Quevedo (tending fire), Belle Baranceanu, Reginald Poland, Donal Hord, Maynard Dixon (foreground), Edith Hamlin, Eileen Jackson, William, Templeton Johnson (standing), Everett Gee Jackson, Margot Rocle, Aime B. Titus (foreground), and Leslie W. Lee. Photograph by Sherman Trease.
Melicent Lee in exotic costume at the Hollow of the Hills ranch near Dehesa.
The Lees’ travels into Mexico and Central America provided subject matter for Melicent’s writing and Leslie’s artwork such as this watercolor and gouach painting of a lush jungle. San Diego History Center, anonymous gift.
This watercolor may depict the garden of the Hollow of the Hills ranch near Dehesa. San Diego History Center, anonymous gift.
Watercolor of a church in Mexico by Leslie Lee. San Diego History Center, anonymous gift.
Leslie Lee presented this etching to his friends Ivan and Evelyn Messenger. It depicts the view from the Messengers’ cottage, “Peter Pan,” at Kentwood-in-the-Pines near Julian. The cottage was named by the etcher Henri de Kruif. San Diego History Center, gift of Ivan and Evelyn Messenger.
Black Pottery is typical of Leslie Lee’s bold and colorful depictions of everyday life in Latin America. Writing of Lee’s paintings, one critic commented on” . . .the clever use of cast shadows which the artist employs to get his delicious contrasts.” San Diego Museum of Man, bequest of the artist.
Leslie Lee’s etchings, such as the depiction of an ox cart show the same direct technique as his paintings. San Diego History Center, gift of Ruth Kimball Aroyan.
Leslie Lee provided illustrations for many of Melicent’s books, including this drawing of monkeys in Costa Rica for At the Jungle’s Edge.
In Volcanoes in the Sun, Melicent Lee wrote about coffee growing in Guatemala by telling the story of two orphan children who are befriended by an old coffee planter. Illustration by Leslie Lee.
El Mozo is typical of Lee’s Mexican portraits, boldly painted with rich colors. San Diego History Center, anonymous gift, 1986.
THE PHOTOGRAPHS are from the San Diego History Center’s Title Insurance and Trust Collection, and the Society’s Collection of San Diego Artists.