Friends and colleagues gathered on Thursday, October 13, 2016, at Oregon Convention Center to celebrate this “national treasure” who began studying architecture in the early 1950’s at Vanport College, now Portland State University. Lee Kelly’s contributions to Oregon’s designed and built environment are visible throughout Oregon as you drive along the freeway, stroll through the park, or hurry to class on campus.
More than 30 of Kelly’s monumental sculptures command public spaces between Eugene and Vancouver. His works are on nearly every public and private higher education campus in Oregon. His Lupine Fugue is prominently featured at The Oregon Garden in Silverton. Tens of thousands of commuters pass his Arch With Oaks every day at Cornell Oaks Corporate Center adjacent to Highway 26. Residents and visitors alike interact on a daily basis with his Frank L. Beach Memorial Fountain in Washington Park’s International Rose Test Garden. Perhaps his most prominent recent installation is Memory 99 in the North Park Blocks adjacent to Pacific Northwest College of Art. Lee received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from PNCA’s predecessor, the Portland Art Museum School, in 1959.
Often working in Cor-Ten or stainless steel, Kelly has been called the greatest living sculptor in the Pacific Northwest. He continues to adapt to new technologies as they become available, and his work continues to evolve. As staggeringly beautiful as his sculptures are to view, the man himself is quiet, humble, and octogenarian “boy-next-door.”
We are excited to share the stories of the 2016 afo Honored Citizen through this 17-minute video produced by Jeff Gianola.
You can also enjoy this 4-minute drone visit to Leland Iron Works by Adam Simmons, Maryellen McCulloch and Larry Schaeffer.