A Nashville man who brought the ancient Chinese tradition of Gyotaku with him when he immigrated as a young boy now implements that art of fish rubbing at his longtime home on Old Hickory Lake.
When Frank Gee goes to the freezer to grab some fish, it doesn't always mean he's hungry.
"We're gonna use it like a palette and put some black on it," Gee said.
Gyotaku is the tradition of painting a fish, then rubbing the fish onto paper for the purpose of printing and recording its likeness. It was an ancient Chinese tradition long before the invention of cameras.
"If they caught a big fish, they wanted bragging rights to that fish, so they would paint the fish's body with black ink, rub it with rice paper and record the size of the fish," Gee said. "So no one could ever accuse them of lying."
Gee's rubbings are just one style of his paining prowess.
"A lot of my paintings are done with Oriental flare. The Oriental philosophy is if you don't remember it, don't paint it," he said.
So, when it's time to paint a bird, Gee doesn't go to the internet. Instead, he heads to the porch, where his backyard birdhouses deliver the detailed display he's looking for.
Gee came to the United States at the age of 5, but he is forever embracing his roots.
"Well, look at me, I'm Chinese, so, yeah, it's my heritage and background. So I'd write with a brush, and I grew up with a brush," he said.
Gee's sense of humor and incredible passion for the art and beauty of nature has made him a Tennessee treasure now for 60 years.
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