100 Creatives 2013: Lee Wright, From Demon to Exceptional Artist

Categories: 100 Creatives

Lee Wright
What He Does: Next time you see a homeless person on the side of the road and think he's just a drunk that will never amount to anything, I want you to remember the name Lee Wright. By the age of 19 he was homeless, succumbing to alcoholism on the streets, and ended up spending almost a month in jail for traffic warrants. From the age of 13 on his mother was honestly convinced that he was the child of a demon, kept him secluded from the world, and allowed him no toys. What he did have was an incomplete collection of The World Book Encyclopedia, paper and a number of writing utensils. He spent most of his time reading about art and drawing the works of the masters he saw in the encyclopedia.

During his stint in jail Wright managed to kick the booze habit and turn his life around. Now he's a comfortable family man with a wife and small daughter, as well as a rising name in local art. The best place to see his work is at Winter Street Studios where he keeps his studio space. His paintings have shown in small galleries around the Houston like East End Gallery and War'Hous, as well as some larger spaces on the East Coast and even as far away Colombia and Japan.

There's a terrible urban realism to his work. Children stare out through a weird hazy black-and-white film right into the heart of the viewer, and even his adult subjects look terribly vulnerable. It's uncomfortable art precisely because it isn't aiming to be so. What you see is a snapshot of a very odd trip through life, and Wright is clearly a fount of exceptional artistic drama. It's like a Social Distortion song come to life.

Captain of Industry
Why He Likes It: "Most people would say it's the freedom they like the most...but not me, my boss (me) is kind of surly and very demanding. I would say the best part of being an artist is wearing shorts to work."

What Inspires Him: "I see beauty and intrigue in just about everything I lay eyes on, from the sweet forgiving innocence of a child to the stories spelled out on the homeless man's face. It all inspires me and makes me want to share my wonderment of these things with the world.

"Influence on my work is frequently changing, right now I am inspired by the techniques used by many contemporary artists and I'm trying to break their code so I can make myself and my art better. Some of these people are David Jon Kassan, Brad Kunkle, and Jeremy Geddes as well as a few select local Houston artists. The best part about looking toward artists that are alive is that if I have a question or need direction I can ask them and they typically answer. You can't do that with Rembrandt or any other dead artist.

"This may sound odd but my personal hero is Mike Tyson. Sure, the guy has had some huge ups and downs while in the spotlight but if you read his story this is a man who has overcome challenges in his life that would make most people attempt suicide. He has come from the dirtiest gutter to the top of Mt. Everest...he's actually very inspiring."

The Hooligans
If Not This, Then What: Wright has actually been a stock broker for some of the largest financial institutions in the world, and he hated every second. Art and his family are the only things that truly drive him any more. There's nothing else.

If Not Here, Then Where: He's traveled from Pennsylvania to California in his time, but something always draws him back to Houston. It's his home.

What's Next: "Art, art, and more art."

More Creatives for 2013
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Vic Shuttee, comedy writer and performer

Robin Davidson, poet and translator

Jessica Wilbanks, essayist and Pushcart Prize winner
David DeHoyos, astronaut photographer
Sophie Jordan, bestselling book author

Jessi Jordan, comic artist, beekeeper and yeti enthusiast
Patrick Peters, architect and professor
Jamie Kinosian, visual artist
Paris F. Jomadiao, mixed-media artist and stop motion animator

Shanon Adams, dancer
James Glassman, Houstorian historian and artist
Lou Vest, photographer
Sara Gaston, stage and screen star
Rachael Pavlik, a writer mom
Ana Villaronga-Roman, Katy Contemporary Arts Museum director

Erin Wasmund, actor, singer and dancer
Karim Al-Zand, composer
Jan Burandt, paper conservator for The Menil Collection
Deke Anderson, actor

Craig Cohen, hockey fan and host of Houston Matters
Mauro Luna, Poe-Inspired photographer
Trond Saeverud, Galveston Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor
Khrystyna Balushka, paper flower child
Christina Carfora, visual artist and world traveler
Sara Kumar, artistic director for Shunya Theatre
Kiki Maroon, burlesque clown
Gin Martini, fashion designer
Lacey Crawford, painter and sculptor
Homer Starkey, novelist
Jenn Fox, mixed media Shohei Iwahama, dancer
Erica DelGardo, metalsmith
Bob Clark, executive director Houston Family Arts Center
Kerrelyn Sparks, bestselling romance author

Lindsay Halpin, punk rock mad hatter
Drake Simpson, actor
Shelby Carter, Playboy model turned photographer
David Matranga, actor
Crystal Belcher, pole dancer
Daniel Kramer, photographer
Blue 130, pin-up explosion art

Nina Godiwalla, author and TED speaker
David Wilhem, light painter
Tom Abrahams, author and newscaster
Browncoat, pin-up pop artist
Kris Becker, Nu-Classical composer and pianist
Vincent Fink, science fashion
Stephanie Saint Sanchez, Senorita Cinema founder
Ned Gayle, thrift store painting defacer

Sameera Faridi, fashion designer
Greg Ruhe, The Human Puppet

Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company
Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director
Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre
Outspoken Bean, performance poet
Barry Moore, architect
Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist
Ty Doran, young actor
Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate
Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet
Justin Garcia, artist
Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center
Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric
Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician
Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse
Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company
Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography

Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions
Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover
Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist
Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer

Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker
Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer
David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer

Danielle Burns, art curator
Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder

Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator

Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker
Amanda Stevens, scary book author
Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger

Ana María Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach

Billy D. Washington, comedian
Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer

Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer

Kelly Sears, animator and film maker
Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director

jhon r. stronks,dance-maker
Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer

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