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Young Jee, Beloved Upper Manhattan Artist, Is Dead

By Carla Zanoni | August 31, 2012 10:10am

INWOOD — Uptown residents are mourning the passing of a beloved artist best known for creating intricately designed works of art in Inwood Hill Park for years.

Young Jee died of natural causes at New York-Presbyterian on Sunday, Aug. 26, according to the citys' medical examiner's office.

Residents throughout the neighborhood said they were saddened to hear of his passing and said they would miss his work he created deep in Inwood Hill Park, which featured natural materials such as sticks, leaves and stones to make Zen-inspired, circular artworks — or mandalas — in the parks.

If Upper Manhattan residents didn't know Jee by name, most knew his circles and many chronicled his elaborate installations over the years.

"The circles have been such a part of the park, especially when you happened upon them deep in the park," said Inwood resident Marcia Guertenthal. "The park won't be the same without him."

Cristobal Vivar, Jee's neighborhood friend, said the park was a big part of their friendship and had often photographed Jee at work deep in the park

"We shared the same feeling for Inwood Hill Park," Vivar said. "I really liked his circles, they were very magical, spiritual." 

Jihee Gransjean, a friend of Jee and 10-year resident of Inwood, also said they had initially connected because of their mutual love of the park and shared Korean heritage.

"We were both Korean, so we connected over that, but our friendship was much more," Gransjean said.

Jee is survived by a brother, son, and daughter. His funeral took place on Thursday in Flushing, Queens.
Friends hope to hold a private memorial for Jee in Inwood Hill Park over the weekend.