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As thrown as I was when I heard that there would be no indictment in the Ferguson police shooting of Mike Brown and that Mayor Marion Barry had died, I was shaken even more by the news that my friend Annie Lee had passed away.

So many times when people die we have regrets or try to do something after their death to commemorate their memory. I’m so glad that I had a chance to talk to Annie last Monday before she went into the hospital and I bought her last 3 paintings. She gave me the fourth painting as a gift.

As we enter any holiday season, Annie is on my mind. Every year for almost the last 20 years, I’ve sent out 20,000 Christmas cards created by Annie Lee. Sometimes I would give her an idea and sometimes she’d bring me several to choose from. Trying to think ahead this year, I ordered Christmas cards with different art work for the next four years. So many people have told me they’ve kept the cards over the years and even framed them. They’ll be even more special now.

If you’ve ever visited the Red Velvet Cake Studio in Dallas, you probably did a double take when you saw our beautiful Christmas tree no matter what season. It’s Christmas all year-round on the TJMS and our tree was personally decorated by Annie Lee and with her own Afro-centric ornaments.

Along with the many commissioned and original pieces of artwork I have, she created one on getting out the Black vote, and White Night on the Fantastic Voyage. Many of her prints have been turned into figurines too.

I’m glad that I’ve had a chance to expose Annie Lee’s genius to so many people but I’m especially glad just to have known this remarkable and gifted woman. There are reminders of her everywhere I look at in my home, in my studio and in my office and it all makes me smile.

Please continue to support her work and celebrate her memory.

Memories of Annie Lee was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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