Lee Godie


Lee Godie (who pronounced her name 'Go-day') was born Jamot Emily Godie on September 1, 1908, in Chicago. She was one of nine daughters and two sons. She liked to imply that her family was well-to-do and her heritage French, most likely neither was the case. She considered herself a genius, and did not refrain from letting others know of her opinion.

Sometime in the 1930's Godie married and had three children, two girls and a boy. Her son, the youngest, died of a childhood illness, and the marriage broke up. Sometime later her older daughter died, and her life becomes vague. No doubt, her life must have become very difficult, both emotionally and financially, and by early 1960's she had become a street person.

In 1968 she was noticed on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago selling her paintings. She would say convincingly, "I'm much better than Cezanne." She was hard to miss, with her extreme make-up - all applied from the same paint box she used to make her pictures. In the winter she wore men's heavy orthopedic shoes and more than one rabbit-skin coat pieced together. She spent her summers sleeping on park benches and only resorted to hotels when cold weather became intolerable. She normally stored her posessions in rented lockers at department stores, bus terminals, and parking garages around the city.

When she was 85 the Chicago Cultural Center had an exhibition display of the most extensive display of her work ever assembled. This was her last public appearance.

Source: Raw Vision