Bonnie Lee is this year’s winner of the City Purchase Award. Lee’s watercolor painting, “Austin’s Courthouse, Old & New,” evokes memories of the old Mower County Courthouse while showcasing part of the Mower County Government Center.  Trey Mewes/trey.mewes@austindailyherald.com
Bonnie Lee is this year’s winner of the City Purchase Award. Lee’s watercolor painting, “Austin’s Courthouse, Old & New,” evokes memories of the old Mower County Courthouse while showcasing part of the Mower County Government Center. Trey Mewes/trey.mewes@austindailyherald.com

Archived Story

Resident wins back-to-back city art awards

Published 10:52am Monday, July 29, 2013

Bonnie Lee has an eye for strong colors.

That’s what she describes her artistic style as, anyway. She uses strong, vibrant colors to bring depth to her watercolor paintings and set herself apart from area artists.

That attention to detail has paid off once again this year, as Lee’s painting, “Austin Courthouse — Old & New” is this year’s City Purchase Award winner, chosen by Austin City Council members during the 2013 Freedom Fest celebration.

“I’m extremely grateful, and very happy,” Lee said of her accomplishment.

Lee is a back-to-back City Purchase Award winner, as she captured last year’s prize with another painting. This year’s piece is the fourth work of art she will have hanging at City Hall.

Lee grew up in Austin and moved back eight years ago, when she decided to retire. A member of the Austin Area Arts Center for the past seven years, Lee is a consistent contributor to Art Center exhibitions and serves as the gallery coordinator for the center’s Oak Park Mall location.

She searched downtown for inspiration for her latest piece. She remembered the grand Mower County Courthouse from her time in Austin as a youth, but was surprised when she looked for the building several years ago, and felt the Mower County Government Center wasn’t as strong of an artistic statement. That’s when she got the idea to incorporate the change in Austin history into one painting.

“I thought it would be something more grand-looking to paint,” she said.

She drew outlines of both structures against each other, as well as other fine details, using watercolor pens. The rest of the portrait, including the vibrant background, is made up of various shades of watercolor, some of which Lee painted over several times in order to get the proper coloring.

“I must see the world a little different than other people do, because I like the bright colors,” she said.

The painting is on display at the Art Center until the end of the month, after which it will reside in City Hall.


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