Lee W. Brubaker dressed as a Pirate

I first met Lee at a painting class at Washington University in the late 1970’s. Those that attended this class were professional artist,mostly illustrators. Lee would usually pose the model. There was no teacher. In the 1980’s I enjoyed visiting his studio and he would visit my studio. Our studios were just a few miles from each other,his in Kirkwood MO. and mine in Glendale MO. I wanted to have a link to his work on the internet but couldn’t find anything on Lee’s paintings,just some Facebook pages of others named Lee Brubaker. I have scanned some images from my collection of printed tear sheets of  Lee’s work and to include on this post. Lee died May 9.1992. I hope others that may see this post and knew Lee will add their memories to this post.

Lee W. Brubaker painting "Another Tall Tail"

Lee Brubaker painting "Quiet Time"

Lee Brubaker pencil sketch

Lees paintings were amazing as were his preliminary pencil sketches.

Here is an excerpt from a promotional sheet from the May Gallery, Scottsdale,Arizona in his own words:

Describing his style as semi-impressionistic, Brubaker says he has experimented with “everything from a Picasso direction to a tight painting. Now ,I’m somewhere between pure impressionism and realism. I’m kind of Loose all over,but crisp up and tighten the areas where it has to be done to put the message across. When you look at one of my paintings, I want you to see something you didn’t even know was there the first time you saw it”.

Things I have seen and people I have known.  John Dyess



  1. Tulay Dohle says:

    I was also in Lee Brubaker’s class in those years. I even posed as an indian girl in one of his painting. He was incredibly talented. My sister bought one of his painting that time from him. She would like to know how much it is worh today?

  2. johndyess says:

    Tulay, Thanks for your comment. Lee was a good friend. I enjoyed visiting his studio and viewing his paintings. I don’t know the value of Lee’s paintings. I think the value is having one of Lee’s paintings and the enjoyment of looking at it.

  3. Tulay Dohle says:

    John, I agree, we love his painting, it is priceless. (Stagecoach being attacked by Indians) we treasure it. I have been looking for Lee’s phone number and lost touch with him. I did not know his passing. I am very, very sad about it. Where is his rest of the Art work?

    John I remember you in class? Love your portfolio…

    Thank you so much for this journal about Lee Brubaker America’s one of most talented Artists…We miss him…

    • johndyess says:

      I wish I knew where his work is located. His wife had the bulk of his paintings and I haven’t talked with her in many years. I enjoyed viewing your website.

  4. Pat Gould says:

    Lee was not a pretentious type of guy. We knew he and his wife well, he was in our wedding, a giving big hearted man! We miss him so very much. For our wedding gift he gave us a water color painting of a man driving a wagon with a small team of horses toward a homestead! We will never sell it. What a great guy!

    • johndyess says:

      That you for commenting about Lee. I still miss him. He died too young and I think about all the wonderful paintings he didn’t have time to paint.

  5. Joy B. Smith says:

    Thank you for your wonderful comments about Lee W. Brubaker, I truly loved hearing
    and seeing his work, I truly do miss him also. I am his “older” sister, Joy Brubaker Smith.
    Every summer Lee would join myself and family in Flagstaff, AZ. and one summer we
    found the tree stump shown above and with Lee’s help we moved it to our home and
    later to Sedona. So I do see part of that painting every day in front of our home.
    He was a very special loving brother…..and I miss him too, thanks, from his sister
    in Sedona, AZ.

    • johndyess says:

      Thank you for your comment Joy,it is a special thing to me to hear from you and others that were touched by Lee and were able to view his work. I hope many others discover Lee through my blog.

      • Joy B. Smith says:

        John, Appreciate your reply and would like to add other information that brother Lee was so very proud of. He rec’d a call from General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces at that time, regarding the Buffalo Soldiers Monument and asked Lee to design the project for Fort. Levenworth Kansas. Lee spent many hours on this project but unfortunately could not attend the dedication of his work the following year. Lee had passed away prior to the ceremony so his son John Brubaker spoke to assembly praising his dads work and how honored his father was. We did save the program of the event if there is any interest in learning more about Lee’s talents.
        Regards, Sister Joy

    • Michael Bernardoni says:

      HI, I knew Lee all of my life. He is truly missed. His wife Carmelita and mom are first cousins and we are in contact with her all of the time. {:O)
      Mike Bernardoni

      • johndyess says:

        Please say hello to Carmelita for me. I used to stop and talk with her before I went upstairs to Lee’s studio. I too still miss Lee.

      • Gloria Reading says:

        I am searching for Carmelita. I knew her many years ago, although she probably would not remember me. Do you have any idea how I can locate her. I’ve had her on my mind the last couple of weeks and set out tonight to find her.

      • johndyess says:

        Gloria,I haven’t seen Carmelita for many years and I don’t know how to reach her. Her son is John Brubaker and I think he still lives in the St. Louis area. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Lee’s sister responded to one of my blogs,maybe you could find and contact her. John

  6. johndyess says:

    Joy, Myself,my wife and other illustrators from St.Louis that were friends of Lee went to the Buffalo Soldiers’ Monument dedication and heard John and General Colon Powell speak. My wife helped Lee design a brochure for his painting of a Buffalo Soldier on a horse that may have been used to raise money for the monument,I’m don’t remember how it was used. I was with Lee shortly before his death and went to his memorial service. As I have said,I still miss him. I remember that Lee rode his bicycle to my studio and was complaining about back pain. He thought he had pulled a muscle. A short time later he called me to tell me he had cancer.

  7. kirk says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks so much for your blog about Lee. I have never met Lee, but I own two of his prints. (Sioux War Party and one other I cannot remember right now. Maybe “showing off”?) Anyway, I found them tucked away and long forgotten in an old antique store in Cleveland, TN.

    I have spent a considerable amount of time online looking for more of Lee’s paintings and for the value of the paintings I own. Honestly, my intention was to sell them. But now, after reading your blog – I may not. It seems Lee was a very special guy to many people and somehow, owning his paintings, seems kind of special today as well.

    I have photos of these paintings that I would be happy to share for this blog if you’d like.

    Thank you for sharing your love for Lee with all of us,


  8. johndyess says:

    Thanks for your comment about Lee’s work Kirk. I would hold onto these prints because it is my opinion that Lee’s work will increase in value as the public discovers his work. Go to my website studiodyess.com to find an e-mail address to send me photos of the prints you own. I too had trouble finding examples of Lee’s work which is why I created a post on my blog about lee and his work.

  9. Kenneth Dowd says:

    Hi John, Lee Brubaker was an amazing illustrator & painter, can’t believe he’s been gone for nearly 20 years. I knew Lee & valued our time together, he was easy to know, down-to-earth, just a wonderful person.
    I would drop by his studio wherever I had a chance, I lived in Kirkwood and drove past his place on the way to my studio in Olivette, his was a better location. I still pass it every time we’re in St. Louis,
    it’s a necessity. I think of Lee often and remember his wonderful images & what a great influence
    he was on all of us slightly younger artists.
    There weren’t many as good as Lee, fewer every year. I own one of his paintings, an old riverboat passing in the river fog, one of my treasures, it hangs in our living room in Austin. I wish I had more!
    I’m glad you have taken the time to maintain this website, Lee would have loved it, thanks again.
    Ken Dowd

  10. Carmelita lives in Kirkwood, Missouri. She is a very private person.

  11. kay Jones says:

    I recently bought”Preparing for the Wedding” 138/1000 signed matted and framed at a local auction

    • Anastasia says:

      Kay, dad died 3 years before I got married but we used this painting as our wedding invitation. The print hangs in my office today. It is nice to know that dad’s work is still relevant and still being appreciated and purchased. I hope you enjoy it.

  12. Anastasia says:

    John, I had no idea you created this blog until one of my partners stumbled upon it. He “googled” dad after I brought Another Tall Tail in to hang in my office. He treasured your friendship and it is very kind that you would honor him with this site. Mom is well.
    Anastasia [“Stacey”]

    • johndyess says:

      Anastasia,Lee became a good friend after I moved my studio to Glendale and I would visit him in his studio. I still think of him and miss him. If you have any images of his work or you want to talk about Lee I can do another blog post about him.

  13. Rick says:

    I was on the Buffalo Soldier Monument Committee at Fort Leavenworth when Lee painted the “Buffalo Soldiers” for the 1992 CGSC Class project. The funds raised were donatedto help build the monument. Lee started signing some from the first of the sequence and some from the end, but left some int he middle unsigned before he died. I purchased three of the signed prints and had ex-Buffalo Soldiers, and members of the Buffalo Soldiers Association sign them at the monument dedication ceremony in 1992. I sold one of the prints several years later, have one framed and hanging in my hallway, and have the third stored in my basement. I, too, have a program from the dedication ceremony and other mementos. Haven’t decided what to do with them.

    • johndyess says:

      Thanks for contacting me about Lee and the Buffalo Soldier Monument. I still think of Lee and wish he was still living. I think about the many paintings of Indians and other historical paintings
      he would have painted by now. I’m glad Lee was chosen to create the “Buffalo Soldiers”.

  14. Bob Hennkens says:

    John: I am Bob Hennkens. My company at the time MARKETCOM and I happily served as the director of development for the Buffalo Soldiers Monument Committee in Leavenworth, Kansas. I hired Lee and commissioned him to develop the funding brochure, and to work with sculptor and historian Eddie Dixon. Eddie and Lee worked many hours together. The project all started with a comment by a young African American student at Webster Groves (Missouri) high school named Larry Williams. Larry played on the state championship team in 1988 with my son Matt. Larry mentioned to me one day that Matt was lucky to have me to tell him about the history of our First American ancestors, as my grandmother was a full-blood Chickasaw Indian. I told Larry that he should be proud of his African-American roots that included the Buffalo Soldiers and the Tuskegee Red Tails. He looked at me and simply said “I know nothing about them.” Checking with the curriculum people at the high school, their answer was we have nothing in our text books concerning the activities of the African-American military. We set out to correct this obvious blank in American history. I called the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was told that General Powell had served at the military war college in Leavenworth, Kansas during the Vietnam conflict. Apparently General Powell used to run on the land where the 10th U.S. Cavalry was first commissioned as one of the first all-Negro Army Units along with the 9th Cavalry detachment in Louisiana in 1866 by President Ulysses S. Grant. President Grant had also served as the General of the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War. With his decision to commission the two cavalry units and the 24th infantry detachment, he declared “We need these men in our Army. They were soldiers during the recent war, who served with great dedication, discipline, and bravery, and represented their Nation proudly.” General Powell’s aide mentioned that it would be appropriate to build an education program to honor the legacy of these men, but in his position, the only active participation in a civilian organization that he could undertake was the Boy Scouts. He also told me that a group of former and current military officers stationed at Fort Leavenworth had formed a committee to try to build a monument and library on the base. I called Navy Commander Carlton Philpott, who served as the organization’s director. He told me about Eddie Dixon who wanted to craft a sculpture to honor the men of color. I talked to Lee and he was excited about the prospect to serve as the creative director and artist to fulfill the work necessary to complete the monument, and to help Commander Philpott and me with the duty to fund the proposed monument without any federal funding. Lee asked me for a model. I told him that 18 year old linebacker Larry Williams had the build and demeanor of a soldier from the past. I picked up Larry one Saturday and took him to Lee’s upstairs studio. Lee had already fashioned some cardboard U.S. stirrups and rounded up a canteen and several other props. Larry had no idea that he was about to become the representative of all African-Americans in the painting “Scouts Out” and the wax maquette and later heroic size (18 foot) bronze statue that now looks forever into the East at historic Fort Leavenworth. Eddie talked to Lee and me during a conference call and explained the name “Buffalo Soldiers” was given to the black Army soldiers by the plains First Americans because of their hair likeness to the American plains bison or buffalo. It was a name of honor. It was later documented that not even the brutal Apaches ever took the scalp of a black soldier killed during their many skirmishes when the 9th and 10th were stationed at Camp Verde and Camp Huachuca in the then New Mexico territory. I was obligated by the Army History Museum and the Smithsonian Institution to depict the Buffalo Soldier of 1879, down the the identification on the canteen. I was caught by the historians with the fact that Lee had depicted the soldier’s hat with the brim faced upward and not downward as the official cavalry hat was issued. Lee and I wanted the front of the hat to be up to better picture the face of the young black soldier of the past and future. I purchased an official U.S. cavalry hat at Levy Hats in St Louis and poured water in it just as the soldiers in Arizona would do to water their horses, and baked the hat in the microwave. The stiffness of the hat broke down, and I was happy to take it and the blue wax modifications on the wax sculpture that Eddie had made back to Washington to demonstrate what happened to the soldier’s hat under those conditions. I got the OK to keep the front of the brim flapped back as we wanted. General Powell accepted the position as Honorary Chairman of the Committee. We started fund raising in black churches, fraternities, community foundations, pennies and dimes gathered by children, and contributions from current military units. I solicited support from major contributors such as Coca-Cola bottling of Philadelphia that was partially owned by basketball great “Dr. J” Julius Erving, and Coca-Cola Foundation. We received large contributions from the Readers Digest Foundation that matched a $250,000 grant from MARKETCOM and its associations with Major League Baseball Players Association, and other professional sports associations. We printed 100,000 of Lee’s vision brochures and 10,000 of the vision of “Scouts Out” poster.The Army provided the land at Fort Leavenworth with a guarantee that military volunteers from the base would forever care for and service the entire Monument grounds. The monument would be like no other. It featured a rough shaped pond surrounded by Kansas wild flowers and a walk of honor surrounding the past. The water in the pond then passed under the feet of the soldier’s horse who had his back to the past of the West. A waterfall carried the water down a rock cascade into a reflecting pool that represented the future of the soldier as he faces the morning light of the East with his brim bent back, and looks past the swamp area now a beautiful lake where the 9th and 10th both mustered, the museum and library, and Military College for all of the services building. Lee insisted on driving from St Louis over to Leavenworth to personally direct where he wanted the large boulders placed where the waterfall would roar from the rough pond representing the past down into the future pond for reflection. The photos that I took of Lee with his trowel are priceless. They showed the passion of a man who not only was a great artist, designer, and quasi-land architect, but also demonstrated his love for Larry Williams and the men that he so magnificently depicted. I actually had tears in my eyes.

    I had the same call about riding his bicycle and his pain. Carlton and I visited with him for a short time right before he died. He was remembered with love by all around him at the dedication of the monument on July 25th 1992 The Buffalo Soldiers Monument was dedicated by General Powell, the governor of Kansas, the two Senators from Kansas Dole and Kasselbaum, Commander Philpott, the Buffalo Solider’s Cavalry Ceremonial Unit from Fort Huachuca, and Lee’s son who spoke on his behalf to the many thousands who attended the ceremony. I had just recently returned from a project in China, and happily sat in the stands with my family as the monument was dedicated on a typically storm-threatened Kansas afternoon.

    I looked up at the heavens and thought that Lee most-likely was roaring with laughter as he often did while asking God to keep the rain and wind away until his magnificent work could be completed. The rain and wind never came.

    Eddie Dixon, Lee Brubaker, and Bob Hennkens were honored by the Buffalo Soldier Monument Committee by inscribing our names on the sponsors granite monument in the walk of honor.

    Lee Brubaker, great friend. All Honor to His Name.

    Bob Hennkens, Tucson, Arizona. November 8, 2013.

    Incidentally, Lee’s artist proof print #2 of “Scouts Out” with the embossed images of the 9th and 10th Cavalry hangs forever in the office of the Joint Chief of Staff in Washington, DC. I have the publisher’s #1 proof on the wall in my office along with the Kansas governor’s declaration that July 25th 1992 will forever be known as the Day of the Buffalo Soldiers.

    • kirkbates says:

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks so much for sharing that wonderful story with us! I am so fortunate that I subscribed to this thread or I would have never known the info you just shared!


    • johndyess says:

      Thank you for your comment on my blog about Lee Brubaker and his importance to the Buffalo Soldiers Monument. Comments like yours keep me posting on my blog. Thanks again for your comment on the history of the Buffalo Soldiers Monument.

  15. Joe Dibos says:

    Bob: Putting together the Buffalo Soldier exhibit with Lee Brubaker was a passionate pursuit of justice on your part just as your presentation of of the much ignored Negro Leagues, the Dodger Experience and the grandaddy of them all, Baseball Immortals at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery from October 20, 1984 through March 15, 1985. The poster commorating the exhibit shows Babe Ruth frozen at the plate watching his soaring moon shot heading for the cheap seats. Always retain your passion for justice and human rights! Joe

    • Robert Hennkens says:


      “My buddy Brubaker had one eye. He once commented to me that he loved to paint on two dimensional canvas, or flat surfaces as he could imagine in his head what depth perception was and document that in his paintings.

      He also told me that he always visualized his images at high noon. That way he never had to try to paint shadows to enhance his subjects. He said that he did not want to compete with photographers like my buddy David Muench who had to get up before dawn to set his camera in place to capture the subtleties of shadows and variations of color in his photos. He wanted the photographers to get up early so he could sleep in.

      He also told me that he wanted to be known as “Brubaker” rather than “Lee Brubaker.” Why? Because there are so many good professionals in the interior design or other non-arts businesses who are named “Lee Brubaker.” “When I get a call for one of them, the person on the phone is surprised that my voice is so low.” It seems like 99% of the other Lee Brubaker s are female. He thought that Brubaker sounded a bit like John Wayne or Steve McQueen.

      I once asked him why his wife who was from Missouri was named Carmelita rather than Carmen. His answer was “you can take a man out of Southern California, but you can’t take the Southern California out of a man. So Little Carmen is actually Carmelita.” Made sense to me.

      Lee always wore a hair piece that looked like a beaver sitting on his head. I often told him that, and he always roared with laughter at my “unique” observation. He once said that the reflection off of his head was so bright without the “rug” that it negated the north light that he paid so much to get into his studio. Made sense to me.

      Brubaker hated very few things. But two that he did despise were legal contracts and people who did not fulfill their word. He said, “Bob, you’re from Oklahoma. You know the value when two guys spit in their hands and shake. Now quit this nonsense about a contract for the work with the Buffalo Soldiers Monument.”

      When I asked him why he insisted on supervising the placement of the rocks for the waterfall from the pond of the past to the reflecting pool of the future at the monument, he said “Its part of the canvas.” Brubaker was always right.

      It was so unfair that he had to die two months before the dedication of his most brilliant accomplishment at Fort Leavenworth. He knew what it was going to look like. He had finished the canvas in his head.

      I always liked the painting of him starting to go down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon that he called “The mule with the Irish name, OOOOOO’Chit.” (see attachment). He always had a way to make fun of himself that also fit his “laid back” California background.

      Brubaker was a unique talent and even more unique person. After over 21 years, I still miss him.

      Bob Hennkens, Tucson, Arizona.

      On Sat, Nov 9, 2013 at 12:45 PM, Journal of Seeing by John Dyess wrote:

      > Joe Dibos commented: “Bob: Putting together the Buffalo Soldier > exhibit with Lee Brubaker was a passionate pursuit of justice on your part > just as your presentation of of the much ignored Negro Leagues, the Dodger > Experience and the grandaddy of them all, Baseball Immortals at” >

  16. Devon Simpson says:

    Thanks, enjoyed reading all the comments on Mr. Brubaker. I own a “Scouts Out” print 2213/2500 which was purchased in CA. some years ago. I’m a Texas collector of Buffalo Soldier art and never thought Id’ed learn this much about Mr. Burbaker.

  17. Rick Dodson says:

    I have two prints of “Scouts Out” that Lee did to help with the fundraiser for the Buffalo Soldiers Monument at Fort Leavenworth, KS. Both were signed by former Buffalo Soldiers on the day of the dedication of the monument.

  18. HI!! Just wanted to let you know that Lee’s wife is doing well., I speak to her several times a week. She is a close Cousin. Thanks!! Michael

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