Lee Adams, one of Jacksonville's native sons, grew up in the lush surrounds of Mandarin amid the flora and fauna of the St. Johns River. A naturalist and self-taught artist, Adams in internationally known for his watercolors and oils of animals, plants troplical birds, exotic fruits and palms. On a grander scale he created the 31-by-8 foot mural of Ribault's Landing using his unique natualistic style and attention to dtail to characterize the spirit of Florida's French history.
After studying botany at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Rollins College, Winter Park, Fla., Adams was commissioned to produce illustrations and paintings for the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Fla. The experience launched his career as one of the world’s foremost botanical illustrators. Describing Adam’s aesthetically pleasing paintings, Dr. David Fairchild, American plant explorer, author and namesake of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, said, “Here is the man to do for tropical fruits what Audubon did for the birds.”
Adams’ art has been widely exhibited and featured in books including Audubon Society publications. He created Florida- heritage murals for the State of Florida Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and represented the United States at the Flower Artists of the World exhibition in London in 1968. Locally, Adams’ work adorns the walls of St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Jacksonville.
Adams and his wife Mimi Stockton Adams, a local environmental activist, died in a car accident in 1971. The City of Jacksonville named a park in Avondale after them, and created the Mimi and Lee Adams Environmental Awards to recognize citizens’ contributions to natural conservation and preservation. In 2004 the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts in Orange Park dedicated the Lee Adams Florida Artist Gallery in honor of Adams.