Leslie Lovell, Savannah GA

Chicken Man - Folk Art

Folk artist Ernest Lee is best known as "The Chicken Man." He describes his unique brand of folk art as a process that "I do [paint] from my heart, not from pictures." "Be what you are, don't be what you ain't. Because if you be what you ain't, then you ain't what you are." - Ernest Lee.

Ernest “Chicken Man” Lee and his open air mobile art gallery have become something of an institution in Columbia, SC. Lee, who considers himself an “outsider” artist, is known for his prolificacy — his dancing chicken paintings are ubiquitous in Columbia, though he also paints pop culture icons with the same energetic brushstrokes.

The “Chicken Man” has been drawing since the age of five and painting since he was twelve. The Edgefield, SC native studied art at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in Alexandria, VA and at the Rose Hill Art Center in Aiken, SC before planting roots in Columbia. Lee, who has spent his whole life as an artist, has a simple motto: “Be what you are, don’t be what you ain’t. Because if you be what you ain’t, then you ain’t what you are.” His paintings have been exhibited in the South Carolina State Museum and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Washington, DC.

Artworks by Chicken Man - Folk Art