Jade Gallery sits like a gem in the heart of Centerville,
a bit of worldly flair in an unassuming building on
Far Hills Avenue.
Owner Kee Hee Lee, 45, has worked hard to gather a
unique collection of works by world-class artists.
While the sounds of opera filter gently through the
elegant gallery, browsers are treated to original
works, serigraphs and prints by professional artists
with wide-ranging styles. The longtime Centerville
resident, who prefers to be known as Kee Hee, opened
the gallery in November 1996. While searching for
an office where she could run her art import business,
she came across 7266 Far Hills Ave. and began remodeling
the building into a gallery.
`I've always wanted to own a gallery,' Kee Hee said.
`The reason I spent so much money and time remodeling
is because I wanted to have the nicest place in town
to enjoy the newest releases from all over the world.'
Soon, her fledgling art import business took a back
seat to the gallery while she scoured national art
shows for the latest works from renowned artists.
Kee Hee attends about eight shows a year in cities
such as Atlanta, Chicago and New York and returns
with pieces from artists such as Theo Tabiasse, whom
she calls the next Picasso, and Yuri Gorbachev a nephew
of the former leader of the Soviet Union.
Kee Hee, who is a professional artist specializing
in Chinese brush painting, displays her paintings
in her gallery and at national art shows. In March,
she exhibited her work at the Art Expo in New York
and sold seven pieces.
When people see her work and inquire about her background,
they inevitably seem shocked that she lives in Ohio.
But Kee Hee said her roots are in this community where
she has lived for 23 years since leaving her native
`We love Centerville. We will probably never move.
We have good people in Ohio. I will probably be buried
here,' she said.
After four months in the gallery business, this professional
artist and mother of three decided to add an art school
to her growing list of activities, thus Kee Hee's
School of Fine Art was born. The school, located in
an airy room adjoining the gallery, has grown to about
70 students, ranging in age from 5 to 65. Instruction
is available from a staff of five professional artists
and teachers in a variety of media.
Kee Hee said the gallery's business is taking off
as customers are becoming more aware of what the Jade
Gallery is about. The gallery will be represented
by about 80 pieces of art in this summer's Homearama
in Butler Twp.
`Business is getting better every day,' she said.
`People didn't know us here. Now, people are getting
to know us.'
Kee Hee's boundless energy bubbles as she shuffles
the responsibilities of her work, her art and her
`My primary goal is to take of my children,' she said.
Kee Hee and her husband, restaurateur Tay Wu, have
three children, Lisa Wu, 23, Christina Wu, 12, and
Christopher Wu, 8. Christina, a student at Magsig
Middle School, is a singer and Christopher, a student
at Weller Elementary, enjoys art. Lisa is a graduate
of the special education program in Centerville, and
now works outside the home.
Kee Hee said having a special needs child has enabled
her to see the gift in each individual, something
she tries to promote in her art school.
`With Lisa, God gave me new eyes to see,' she said.
That is why she takes time out of every day to step
into the art school to encourage each fledgling artist
with either a pat on the back or a compliment on a
`Jade is not jade unless you polish it and some students
may have a particular talent. But how can you be talented
if you don't help them to develop?' she asked.
It is a philosophy Kee Hee hopes is the blending of
the best of both Eastern and Western teaching techniques:
the discipline from the East and the individual attention
from the West.
She also incorporates her integrated philosophy in
`My work is inspired by balancing harmony between
nature and people,' she said.
The Jade Gallery is open Tuesday through Thursday
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.
to 6 p.m.
Copyright, 1998, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.