In the Suburbs: Art by Lee Walther adorns Fairfield Bookstore walls

Some of Lee Walther's artwork on display in Fairfield.

Some of Lee Walther’s artwork on display in Fairfield.

Steven Gaynes / Contributed photo

“I am so grateful to my dear Grandmother, a professional photographer, w ho taught me how to observe...to look ...to see. I hope some of my w ork speaks to you.” Artist Lee Walther

Lee Walther’s highly unusual work definitely spoke to me during this past month at the Fairfield University Bookstore. Her exhibit, entitled “Melange,” loosely defined as a mixture · medley · blend · variety · mixed bag · mix · miscellany · diversity · collection · selection · assortment · assemblage or combination ·includes a compelling array of highly unusual collaged and themed mirrors and other creations she calls FUNctional works of art. According to Lee, “My intention when creating my original FUNctional works of art was to create removable and replaceable components to my collaged mirrors and side tables.”

In this particular exhibit, there were no side tables, but some of the memorable mirrors included collages of famous artists like Frieda Kalo and Matisse; “Who’s Perching Where?” a beautiful collage of colorful birds; and a striking collage of Chakra Stone including handmade felt earrings.

Each of Lee’s tables is custom made and features an interchangeable clear acrylic box which becomes the centerpiece in the middle of the table. It can be used to display any variety of objects and collectibles. Crystals/sea glass, miniature gardens/terrariums, floating candles, a temporary aquarium, coin collections or set of small toys all take on a new perspective in this open (or lidded) container and become a functional, ever changing piece of art. The lucite legs, base, and table top are combined with choice wood, and color finishes among other materials.

Lee Walther’s exhibit will be at the Fairfield University Bookstore through the end of September. The exhibit is unusual, colorful and has been a labor of love for this very interesting artist.

Of the monthly, featured artists and photographers whose work adorns the stairs leading up to our children’s books, text and reference sections of the Fairfield University Bookstore, l was particularly impressed this month with Lee Walther’s creations.

Lee Walther is a highly inventive artist and a self-proclaimed “Dadaist.” Dada was an art movement that originated in the early 20th century.

For Lee, who has always been in the creative fields of art, fashion and design, everything is or can be art, and inspiration is everywhere. Seen through Lee’s special lens and imagination, new concepts and ideas are created in different mediums, often as functional art, as shown with her unique and original side tables.

“There is not much I can say about my artistic journey…It evolved so naturally,” she told me. “I never believed I was or ever could be an artist. I didn’t know there could be a place for me in the art world but my interest and love brought me into that world. I was what Julia Cameron called in her book,( The Artist’s Way) ‘A shadow artist’ — highly creative people in their own right but who don’t believe that they are an artist. I found my tribe of artists and people in the arts but I stayed in the shadows, in shadow careers — close to the desired art but not the art itself.”

She told me that over the years she developed broad interests and eventually started collecting art works.

Early in 2004 Lee designed a side table with an interactive and interchangeable component of assemblages. She entered this piece of FUNctional art into a juried show at the Monmouth Museum and was accepted.

She is a member of the Artists Collective of Westport and her work has been shown in many juried exhibits and galleries. She is also on the curatorial committee at the Bruce S. Kershner Gallery at the Fairfield Library and will be seen in one of the first shows since the pandemic, “Behind thce Scenes — Art by the Curators” from Oct. 2 - Nov. 27. The reception is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 7.

Lee added, “It might surprise people to know that many artists are not comfortable in calling themselves artists. Deep down, they feel like a fraud. Maybe it’s because creating art might come easy to them or simply from them. No angst - suffering. Also, many people automatically assume that if you are an artist, you are a painter. They most likely ask, ‘Where do you show?’ and then ask ‘Do you sell any of your work?’ No wonder we can sometimes feel like an imposter.”

Lee’s Exhibit will be at the Fairfield University Bookstore until Sept. 30. The collection is truly unusual and is a real tribute to Lee’s art.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at stevengaynes44@gmail.com.