Detail from The Heart of the Reef, by Lee James Pantas



Lee James Pantas

Lee James PantasBorn in 1941 and turning to art as his primary focus in the 1970's,  Lee James Pantas is a painter dedicated to helping save our earth's natural environment from further destruction, a mission highlighted by his current project, "Liza's Reef", a ten-year series of paintings of an imaginary coral reef, accompanied by an environmental education website. Started in 2005, one of the facets of this project is to raise awareness of the growing environmental crisis in our oceans caused by human activity -widespread pollution, wholesale destruction of entire species, and the accelerating disappearance of coral reefs all over the world. Pantas' work, like that of Wyland, Christian Riese Lassen and other visionary painters of the ocean, is a call to action to stop this devastation before it is too late. His paintings are vibrant reminders of what we stand to lose if mankind cannot make the shift to a more sustainable and ecologically harmonious global society.

Prior to the Liza's Reef project, Pantas completed over 250 paintings, all of which, with rare exception, are in private, corporate or organizational collections. This earlier body of visionary work had as its primary focus the vast reaches of interstellar space, in surreal and fantastic visions of imaginary worlds, life forms and starry landscapes. A number of paintings in this period were also concerned with distinctly religious themes, reflections of a spiritual awakening the artist experienced at that time.

With degrees in biology and ecology as an educational foundation, self-taught as an artist, and influenced by a lifetime of study of religion, philosophy and science, Pantas shares a powerful vision that is uniquely his, and one that fuses two brilliantly colorful realms, the endless galaxies and stars of outer space and the magical reaches of earth's coral reefs. As noted by one reviewer, "The process of painting itself is for Pantas part of his exploration into the unknown for he attempts to work with the prevailing natural and creative spiritual energies of the universe flowing though him in interaction with the media and the environment. This is a method that is akin to the artistic disciplines of the ancient Zen Masters in their paintings and works of calligraphy. It is also in accord with the latest discoveries of Modern Quantum Physics which recognize the active participation of the subject continually participating in the co-creation of objective reality." The end results are extraordinarily exquisite and stunning presentations of surreal, supercharged nature, blends of fantasy and realism in a unique vein of visionary art that invite the viewer into a luminous world where harmony, surprise and wonder prevail. 

In addition to his painting, from 1980 to 2004, this multi-faceted artist also completed over 2000 personal and commissioned pen Bobcat, pen & ink drawing by Lee James Pantas& ink drawings of private residences, historic buildings, landscapes and animals, a prodigious stream of extraordinarily detailed and controlled artistic output that engaged the "other side of his brain", as he puts it. Reproductions of many of these drawings, in the form of prints and cards, are sold throughout the southeastern United States in galleries, gift shops and bookstores. In the same vein, Pantas is also the author and illustrator of a best-selling regional guidebook "The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains", and an acclaimed illustrated book The Wild & Furry Animals of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Giving back is elemental to Pantas, and in 1978 he founded a Catholic Christian soup kitchen in Stamford, Connecticut, New Covenant House, that since then has evolved into a multi-faceted social services center serving the needs of street people and lower income community members.  Pantas also spends considerable time coaching track & field and has established a reputation as one of the elite high school hurdles coaches in America. Inspiring, educating, and giving back through his generous spirit is something that is fundamental to Pantas' nature as both a human being and an artist. His Liza's Reef project is a perfect example of this fusion of creativity and philanthropy.

Prints of Paintings & Drawings by Lee James Pantas