Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Hemlock Street sits Clement Lee Gallery. Located at 131 East Monroe Street, the gallery is home not only to an accomplished artists’ works, it is home to the artist as well.

Opened in May, the Clement Lee Gallery invites art lovers to see artwork being made in an intimate home setting.

“Working at home is hard for some people, with all the distractions.” Lee said. “I find that having my work in my home forces me to paint, even when I don’t feel like it.”

Lee’s artistic influences have been shaped by a global perspective.

He was born and raised in Hong Kong. His father worked in the import-export field and decided to pursue business elsewhere upon the Communist Party’s ascension to power.

“My father didn’t know much about Brazil, other than it was a good business opportunity and the time was right,” Lee said. “Looking back, these different places really shaped me as an artist.”

Lee moved to the United States to attend college and continued to move around as he explored his surroundings.

“I was a bit of a nomad for awhile,” he said.

Lee met and married his wife, Mary, and pursued a successful career in engineering and marketing. Still, he found himself drawn to more artistic endeavors.

“In high school, I was into drawing as a hobby, but my family wasn’t particularly artistic” Lee said. “I began painting about six years ago, and I learned I have a very diverse interest in art.”

That diversity includes work in collage, crayon, charcoal and graffiti.

In 2006, Lee decided to examine those diverse interests more fully. He took the leap and enrolled in art studies at Portland State University and at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

The Lees made Cannon Beach their full-time home in 2012, something that gave Clement Lee the impetus he needed to open a gallery and paint full time.

“I always wanted to open a gallery, and out of the house seemed perfect for me,” Lee said. “We loved that we were living in an art town.”

The Clement Lee Gallery is part of an artistic microcosm on Monroe Street, with Greaver Gallery and Gorsuch Gallery also calling the street home.

Lee’s main floor is his work space, and the walls around his studio are adorned with his work, particularly abstract.

“I work mainly in abstract,” Lee said. “I finally decided this was where my passion lies.”

He enjoys exploring the human form, and the open light of the space is perfect for daily creativity, he said.

Still, the new venture has not been without challenges, particularly when it comes to being found by art lovers.

“We’re not in the downtown area, so it’s hard to become known unless people are looking for you,” Lee said.

There is also the issue of the zoning laws that prevent these galleries from holding events that might increase traffic to a residential neighborhood.

“It’s a unique setting, so I’m not allowed to have openings or events like you would see in a traditional gallery setting,” Lee said.

That hasn’t prevented Lee from getting his work seen and carving out a niche for himself. He has been part of exhibitions along the North Coast, something he hopes to continue in the future.

When not painting, Lee has volunteered at the Cannon Beach Arts Association Gallery and the Plein Air and More Festival.

So far, Lee hasn’t set a schedule. People can drop by and watch him work.

“I’m trying to figure out the best day to be open,” Lee said. “I work on paintings seven days a week, so I’m always here.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.