• Chicken Man makes a McDuffie stop
By Jim Wallace

Ernest Lee paused in Thomson recently and remembered his past and showed off his present and gazed to the future.
Lee, the guest of local art collector Tom Wells, stopped by Kent’s restaurant on East Hill Street June 17.
The visit was to spend time with Wells, drop off some art and head to Atlanta from his home in Columbia to see a Braves game.
“Thomson is nice,” said Lee. “I worked at Kent’s around 1996. I used to help fry chicken and now I paint them.”
Lee, a self-taught folk artist, is known to many as the Funky Chicken Man, or just the Chicken Man, and he is popular in Columbia, S.C., said Wells.
“The college atmosphere there helps,” said Wells. “Many like the carefree style.”
Lee arrived in Thomson with his trademark pick-up, complete with a colorful homemade camper shell for carrying art.
The 52-year-old said he began painting when he was five, as he pulled boards from the graffiti-decorated shell, one of several of his mobile units. His first trailer is in the State Museum in South Carolina.
“It began with paint-by-number and went from there,” Lee said. “Chickens are my most popular, but I paint other things, too.”

To read more on this story, pick up the Thursday, June 26, edition of The McDuffie Progress.





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