Pickup Artist: Monroe Lee drives around in a work of art. Sort of.

To some art is a hobby. Others make a living out of it. Monroe Lee loves art so much that he proudly drives it like an exhibit on wheels.

by Jose Duran
PHOTOs By David Zentz

Monroe Lee and one of his dogs strike a pose in his 1980 Dodge Ram, a priceless masterpiece.

When most of us go on vacation, we pick up postcards saying, “Wish you were here.” When Monroe Lee goes on vacation, his truck is his postcard. And the brightly painted designs that decorate the exterior of his 1980 Dodge Ram make it priceless.

Covering more than 300,000 miles, Lee's truck has been to Mexico, the Keys and most of the southeastern United States. The art-on-wheels is also a makeshift Technicolor doghouse for his four dogs, who ride in the bed. “I like making people happy,” explains Lee, a paraprofessional designer. “When kids say, 'Look ma! There's a real dog on that truck', that makes me happy.”

The art project started when Lee drew a few pictures of Cherokee Indians on it. Later, a boy drew a turtle and feather, and Lee tried to fix it by designing around it. On a trip to Tampa, his wife's friend pointed out that he was the owner of an art truck.

He has designed and painted every piece of artwork on the truck but asks people to sign his truck when they meet him. His favorite design on the truck is a drawing of a Hawaiian volcano, a reminder of the times he spent surveying the islands.

The vehicle has garnered a lot of attention. It's been featured on Web sites devoted to cars that look more like moving artwork than everyday transportation. Also, a local rock band named Monroe Lee honors the local celebrity by using his name.

Several people have made offers to purchase the vehicle. According to Lee, the biggest offer he ever received was from a tourist in Delray Beach, who wanted to give him $40,000 for the truck he purchased for only $2,700.
Despite the offers, Lee says his memories and the happiness he spreads aren't for sale.