On November 26, 2018, Lee Weiss died peacefully at home with her family by her side. Born in 1928 in CA, she lived in Madison, WI since the early 1960s, where she built a career as an internationally recognized watercolor artist. She was a Dolphin Fellow of the American Watercolor Society, member of the National Watercolor Society, and past president of the Watercolor Honor Society. Recognized by the watercolor community, she earned the
Watercolor Honor Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and Wisconsin Visual Art
Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, in addition to multiple other awards and honors.
Known for her innovative ability to capture and interpret the spiritual qualities of nature
within the watercolor medium, she translated her respect and intense appreciation of nature
into her art. Breathtaking visions were depicted within her work, from small portraits to
monumental presentations, every detail imbued with a sense of purpose. Her inspiration
emerged from world-wide travel as well as her beloved neighborhood park, Hoyt Park, just
steps from her front door. She defined her vision thus: "If I can't find some mystery, something
that moves me, then I have just done an illustration, not a painting. The paintings that really
thrill me are those that leave a lot unsaid, but there's a presence..."
Lee Weiss built a global reputation for her adventurous use of watercolor, all the while
participating in major American watercolor competitions from the 1960s to late 2010
accumulating multiple awards along her journey. She was a long time exhibiter with the Fanny
Garver Gallery in Madison, The Franz Bader Gallery in Washington DC for over twenty years,
Addison/Ripley Gallery, Washington, DC, Gallery Madison 90 in NYC as well as others
nationally and internationally. Her pieces reside in numerous museum and corporate
collections, including the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art, The National
Museum of Women in the Arts. The National Air and Space Museum, The Phillips Collection of
Washington, D.C., Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WI, Chazen Museum of Art,University of Wisconsin-Madison, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI, and the Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, WI.
Her recognition as an artist never surpassed her reputation as a beloved family member and
friend. Most of all, she was recognized as the 'master of holidays', 'chef extraordinaire', and
'champion hugger' by family and friends, who commonly found her house to be the
cornerstone of gatherings.
Lee Weiss is predeceased by her husband, Leonard Weiss; and daughters, Janet Weiss and
Martha Weiss Figueroa. She is survived by daughters, Meg Weiss Rivera of Connecticut, and Jo Weiss, of Washington, DC; and by six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Friends and community members are encouraged to make donations in Lee's honor to the
National Museum of Women in the Arts, online or by post to NMWA, PO Box 120, Merrifield, VA 22116-9640, PLATO Madison, firstname.lastname@example.org., or Friends of Hoyt Park.
A memorial has been set for January 11, 2019, at the First Unitarian Meeting House, 900
University Bay Drive, Madison, Wisconsin beginning at 5pm, reception to follow.
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road, Madison
I first met Lee in about 1974, when my UW ceramics professor, Don Reitz, took our grad class on a field trip to her home, to meet his dear friend and artist. I was profoundly impressed by her work, her beautiful home, her graciousness and her appreciation of nature. It was a great joy to reconnect with Lee 40 years later and especially to have her visit my home and comment that “we share the same muse.” What a wonderful life she had as Wisconsin’s greatest artist.
My deepest condolences and prayers to Lee's family. Lee mentored me when I was just beginning graduate school, and I will always be grateful and humbled by how generous she was to me with her time and talent. Beyond those gifts, she taught me by example the importance of kindness and determination. I'm so grateful to have crossed paths with her.
My sympathy over your loss. Lee to me was the personification of graciousness, innate determination, talent, and an example of mother love which shown in her eyes when she spoke of her family. She will be missed.
What fun to work a Lee Weiss show at the Garver Gallery! She was equally gracious to seasoned buyers, staff, students on a budget and inquisitive browsers. I was always happy to be asked to staff her shows, but her work sold itself. So beautiful.
As the coordinator of the PLATO short story group, I wish to express my deep sorrow at the passing of Lee. It was an honor to have her in our class to which she gave the fruits of her deep experience and wisdom. We shall treasure her memory and her presence among us.
I will greatly miss seeing Lee at our South Central Chapter meetings for Wisconsin Visual Artists. Despite her great success as an artist, she was always available to younger and up-and-coming artists, sharing her experience, warmth and grace. She relished being with her many friends and I count myself fortunate to have been among them. Lunches with Lee were always a highlight for me. She trusted me to maintain her website and it was an honor to work with her. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to her family. Farewell, Lee, on your next journey.
My thoughts and prayers are with Lee's family. I can scarcely believe I will not run into her again at Metcalfs or some local exhibit. Her warmth, intelligence and vision shine down on us daily from her watercolors that bless and grace our house. Knowing Lee first through her work and then personally has changed my life and my work as an artist. She will be sorely missed, but never forgotten. As always she is blazing a beautiful trail ahead for us all.
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