Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Arts Unknown: The Life and Art of Lee Brown Coye
Luis Ortiz
Nonstop Press, 176 pages

Lee Brown Coye
Born in Syracuse, NY in 1907, Lee Brown Coye spent his formative years in various small towns in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. After graduation from high school he moved to Leonia, NJ to join the art colony there, but when the depression hit he moved back to Syracuse where he worked as an artist and art director for the Flack Advertising Agency. In 1934, he received his first painting commission to do six murals depicting the history of Central New York, for Cazenovia, NY's Central School. He quit advertising work just before WWII to become a full-time artist. In 1947, he became a professor at Colgate University. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Cayuga Museum of History and Art, Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, Skidmore College and Colgate. A complete collection of his work is housed at the SUNY Morrisville College Library. His art graced the covers of Weird Tales from 1945-1951, and many Arkham House editions. His strange tale of sticks found around an abandoned homestead told in the "Chips and Shavings" column of the Mid-York Weekly and retold in Karl Edgar Wagner's "Sticks" (Whispers, spring 1974) is thought to have been an inspiration for scenes in The Blair Witch Project. Coye died on September 5, 1981 of a heart attack.

Publisher's page
Wikipedia Biographical Entry
Coye collection at SUNY Morrisville
ISFDB Bibliography Entry

Luis Ortiz
Luis Ortiz has worked as a graphic designer, art director, editor and computer graphics manager of a New York City advertising agency. In the early 1990s, he was a member of the Slimy Babies workshop (a group of professional fantasy, science fiction, and horror authors), which met in the homes of its various members. He lives in downtown Manhattan with his wife Karan and eight or nine turtles and tortoises.

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

Arts Unknown: The Life and Art of Lee Brown Coye Arts Unknown: The Life and Art of Lee Brown Coye chronicles the life of Coye, and reproduces several hundred of his works. While Coye largely successfully supported himself (and his family) as an artist of some sort or other, from when he left high school until his death, the coincidence of his early efforts to get established with the onset of the Great Depression and later attempts to get out of advertising with the outbreak of WWII, meant he never got the big break. To those outside the art aficionados' circles he is generally remembered for a number of Weird Tales covers from 1945 to 1951, and numerous evocative black and white horror illustrations and covers, many for Arkham House books. However, a number of his illustrations were non-fantastical, serving to illustrate his and others works on Central New York mores. However, Coye was far more than a one-trick pony, having done standard landscape art, large historical murals,detailed scale models, advertising art, illustration, silver-smithing, as well as teaching. He also dabbled in sculpture, folklore, and extensively researched many of his topical works, including his "Weirdisms" spots inside the pages of Weird Tales.

Having spent close to seven years living near where Coye had grown up and worked, it was particularly interesting to read of his life and see his works showing buildings or scenes of the area which still, in many cases, exist more or less unchanged. Still, he remains poorly known; a relative of mine who teaches Art History at the High School he graduated from in 1926, had never heard of him. Certainly one positive aspect, then, of Arts Unknown is that Coye's name should become more widely known. My hiking and bushwacking in the region led me at times to some strange remnants of human occupation, such as those Coye illustrated or wrote of in some of his works that drew on or related to local folklore and history. One can tell from his works depicting the region in which he lived that he had a great love of the land and its people.

While the quality of reproduction of Coye's works is excellent and the quantity of material significant, in packing so much in, some of the material on certain pages does not appear to correspond to the subject or career era under discussion; while, conversely, references (via page number) in the text to works being discussed are sometimes missing or refer to a page far distant in the book. However, the book also contains a helpful index, list of illustrations, copious notes, and bibliography.

Copyright © 2006 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide