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Biography - Julee Simmons

JuLee Simmons began painting in oils more than thirty years ago, at the age of ten. That discovery unleashed a passion which has animated her life to the present day. “Sometimes I wish I could make art like I did when I was young,” JuLee recalls. “There were no mistakes then. A bad drawing of a cow could turn into a pig. Now my work is more of a struggle. It takes a lot of insight and patience to make that mark on the paper deliberate and profound.” A native of Denver, Colorado, JuLee studied art at the University of Denver and completed her formal training at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1979 to 1981. JuLee began her career as an artist for the Denver Nuggets and the Denver Broncos, and painted portraits and golf art for the Senior PGA Tour. Looking back, JuLee observes: “Sports art sometimes is derided as ‘genre’ art, but I never looked at it that way. It permitted me to refine techniques which I still draw on to create fine art. When I look at my early sports work, I see land-scapes. I see figures in motion. I see portraiture.” During the 1990's JuLee partnered with The Alonzo Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida and became the sole featured artist there, selling originals as well as limited edition prints. During this period, JuLee produced a limited edition print of baseball great Stan Musial, signed and numbered by Mr. Musial as well as by the artist. The first numbered print was presented to President Clinton during a trip by Mr. Musial to the Oval Office. JuLee published a popular series of calendars and cards through The Lang Companies. Prints of her work also have been published by the Denver Art Museum. JuLee has traveled extensively, broadening her creative under-standing by studying the work of the Nineteenth Century masters. In 1997 and 1998 she traveled to Spain, Africa and Eastern Europe, where she lived for a year. Upon her return from Eastern Europe, JuLee left the sports genre to turn to new subject matter which fully engaged her artistic passions. Preliminary sketches and watercolors from her travels serve as the basis for many of her current paintings. “My style generally is impressionistic, but sometimes I like to work in a tighter style inspired by the masters of earlier periods,” JuLee observes. “I try to create scenes that are timeless. When the viewer has no historical reference, it is easier to focus on the emotional content of the piece.” Mature artistic vision does not arise spontaneously, but is the product of years of experimentation and false starts. The process can be painful for the artist. “Sometimes I become frus-trated with the pace of my progress,” JuLee acknowledges. ”Why has it taken years of creative endeavor to reach this point? Then, after pushing at the barriers for a period of time, I suddenly experience a breakthrough and feel a release. I leave my studio feeling exhausted but happy. I know that I could not have created my current pieces ten years ago.” Despite her ambition to create “fine art,” JuLee does not view her years of commercial work as beneath her. To the contrary, her paintings of sports figures in action helped her to develop an unusually good facility with the human form. It is here, in the realm of figurative art, that JuLee seeks to make her mark. Many of JuLee’s current pieces are paintings of young women. “I like the romantic perspective of the Nineteenth Century,” she says. “Artists such as John Singer Sargent, J.W. Waterhouse, and N.C. Wyeth continue to inspire me. Contemporary artists like to pretend that they are blazing paths that have never been walked before, but the truth is that we stand on the shoulders of the great artists who came before us. Rather than focus on the ‘shock of the new,’ I prefer creating art that celebrates beauty.” In recent years, JuLee has exhibited in Santa Fe, Taos, Scottsdale, and Aspen. JuLee may be contacted by phone at 303-320-1433 or by email at juleesimmonsholden@gmail.com. Additional artwork may be viewed at her website, www.juleesimmons.com.