Lee Jamison

(American, b. 1957)  

The Macaroni Line, 2023

Oil on canvas 

19 x 72 inches

Gift of Linda and William Reaves, The Linda and William Reaves Collection of Texas Art at UHV, 2023


Essential infrastructures such as highways, bridges, and railways are networks that connect small town residents with larger metropolitan areas and onto the globalized world. In 1880, when the railway through Edna, Texas was being constructed, the city of Victoria was the established commercial hub before Houston was to command that designation. Known as “the Macaroni Line” due to its construction by the famed Italian railroad impresario Count Giuseppe Telfener, the railroad’s most important contribution is represented in the Italian families living in Victoria, Houston, Galveston and elsewhere who are descended from the Italian workmen who labored to build the structure. The realistic painter Lee Jamison maintains a strong interest in the East Texas landscape and its many historical shifts. The recent work, The Macaroni Line (2023), presents a contemporary view of the famed railway and its rail station. Cars parked outside of the train depot symbolize our current era’s dependence on the oil industry and stands as a stark contrast to the long track of railroad extending far off into the distance. A grassy tract of land to the left of the composition, perhaps an old farm road, lies in comparison to the metropolitan city of Houston looming far away in the misty background. It is this railroad that connects the country and the city, the local and the global.  

In the early 1880’s, Count Telfener paid passage for over a thousand northern Italian laborers to come work on the railway.  His hope was that each laborer would bring their families to Texas to settle permanently. Within six months difficult working conditions and sickness caused half of the Italian work force to quit and construction was halted in 1882 after the state repealed its promise of land grants to railroad builders. Regardless, the railways and its laborers boosted growth to the coastal Texas area. The town name of “Edna” honors the daughter of Count Telfener.  

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Jamison has been a resident of Huntsville, Texas and the surrounding area for over twenty five years. As a young child, Jamison developed an interest in art and began painting at the age of eight. He majored in art at Lon Morris College, Jacksonville, Texas, and completed his degree at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. Since 1982, Jamison has worked as a full-time artist. His projects have included major works for the Driskill Hotel, Austin and The University of Texas at Austin. Jamison has exhibited at the Witte Museum, San Antonio, the San Angelo Museum of Fine Art, and the Texas State Capitol, among many others. His work is included in the collection of former President George H. W. Bush among others. Publications include Ode to East Texas: The Art of Lee Jamison (2021), and inclusions in Of Texas Rivers and Texas Art (2017), and The Art of Texas State Parks: A Centennial Celebration (2022). He illustrated the book Seven Wonders of the Universe That You Probably Took for Granted (2011) by C. Reneè James. Jamison is represented by Sarah Foltz Gallery in Houston. 


University of Houston- Victoria