Preservation and Documentation #1: Securing the Ouevre

Ann Lemon

The first task of an artist’s estate is locating and preserving the existing work. After Lemon’s tragic death, family and friends helped to collect all available work with the idea of having the first public viewing of the totality of his output at his memorial service.

The result was overwhelming. Hundreds of images filled the sanctuary of Immanuel UCC, the church where Amos was baptized, attended nursery and Sunday school, and was confirmed as a teen. The sheer visual intensity of the volume and quality of work surprised us all. His art teachers had only seen the work in class; his friends had seen his sketchbooks - almost no one had seen many of the paintings in “his” studio in the barn at our home, or the recent works on paper created while in treatment and on the road in his brief period of homelessness.

For the first time, as work was unearthed, we began to group like images together. The result was a gradual realization of the way his work progressed through distinct phases, each one building on the previous phase.

Lemon continuously, restlessly experimented, generating a large volume of drawings and sketchbooks, then academic figure drawings, then his ultimate stylistic invention - the intensely colored pieces he called “zoetropes” where figurative underlying space is overlaid with multiple, intertwining “animations”. He photographed many of these miniature motion studies and animated them as .gifs on Tumblr and Instagram.

As his work was progressing, his mental health was deteriorating. The struggle, told by the work. as this young visionary tried to express and understand his interior world, is intensely moving.

A ceaseless observer of the quirks and oddities of the human race, Lemon’s wit, humor, and despair are all on display - if you look closely enough.