Gallery Honors Artist's Mother

Washington Twp. Woman has donated nine oil painting to the Hae Kim Gallery at Southview Hospital

BYLINE: Katherine Ullmer Staff Writer
DATE: July 26, 2007
PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)
SECTION: Centerville Bellbrook
PAGE: Z2-5

WASHINGTON TWP., Montgomery County -

Kee Hee Lee's father, a Korean land holder, died when she was just 2 years old, leaving her mother, Hae Kim, to raise her and her brother Lee Woon in Daegu, Korea. "It was a struggle," said Lee, 54, of Washington Twp., as she stood in a hallway of Southview Hospital last week.
A small framed picture of Lee with her mother, who died June 1 at age 85, hangs on the wall. A nearby sign proclaims the area, the Hae Kim Gallery.
Over the past two years, Lee has donated nine oil paintings, valued at more than $35,000, to the gallery.
Lee and hospital officials dedicated the gallery July 12, the 18th birthday of Lee's son Christopher Wu, adding two paintings by Emanuel Mattini to the seven already there by American artist Roybal. Roybal's work has whimsical curly haired, sock-footed child musicians.
All depict a love of life, joy, kindness, hope and cheer, "all characteristics of my mom," Lee said.
Life as a single mother in Korea was hard 50 years ago, Lee said. Though Lee married and moved to America, her mother remained her right arm, visiting frequently.
About 22 years ago, she moved here and became a part of the Wu - Teddy Wu is Lee's husband - household.
Hae Kim cooked, did the laundry, gardened and reared Lee's three children "so I could work, do my art and write," said Lee, who owns the Wind Fine Art Gallery in Centerville and is an artist, author and columnist for the Korean Daily News.
"Every day, we watched a Korean soap opera together," Lee said. "She gave me direction. In a way, she was my boss. She attended every art show I had."
Hae Kim spent her final days in Southview Hospital, going home seven days before she died.
"She always said she didn't want to be a burden on her family and prayed to God every day to 'let me die in seven days,'" Lee said.
Hae Kim said that would give everyone time to say goodbye. When the time came, with her last words she vowed to take all their pain and suffering with her, carrying it on her head and back, so the family will remain happy forever, Lee said.
"My mother was a very loving and caring person and she always liked to give things to people, so I think the gallery would make her very happy," Lee said.
She said she plans to continue donating two or three works a year.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2341 or kullmer@DaytonDailyNews.com.
Copyright, 2007, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.

Kee Hee Lee stands with her late mother Hae Kim, who died at age 85, June 1. Contributed photo
Kee Hee Lee, a Washington Twp. and owner of Wind Fine Art Gallery, is donating a gallery of artwork to Southview Hospital in honor of her mother Hae Kim, who passed away June 1.