Adele Lemm was born near Lake Michigan, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1904. She studied at Siena College in Memphis, then at the Memphis Academy of Arts under George and Henriette Amiard Oberteuffer. During the summers of 1951-53 she attended the Colorado College Fine Arts Center. She also studied under Vaclav Vytacil, who imparted to her a warm-spirited, semi-abstract influence. She blended fantasy and reality in well-organized canvasses with impeccable perspective. Her works have a strong sense of design, using building blocks of soft color. She was an “essentialist” who omitted unnecessary details. Her work was semi-abstract, or as Brian O’Doherty wrote in The New York Times, “semi-cubist academism.”
For twenty-three years Lemm taught at the junior school of the Memphis Academy of Arts. For fifteen summers she visited Martha’s Vineyard or Monhegan, Maine, producing many New England scenes. Beginning in the 1950s she exhibited at the National Academy of Women Artists’ annual exhibition, winning five prizes, including the Grumbacher Watercolor Prize in 1954 and the Grumbacher Pastel Prize in 1959. Summer Sails won her the first watercolor prize the Mid-South Exhibition of Paintings in Memphis in 1956 and 1963. In 1957 one of her pastels was chosen as the cover design for the catalogue of an exhibition organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She exhibited also at Audubon Artists in New York, the Philadelphia Watercolor Club, Provincetown Art Association, Martha’s Vineyard Art Association, Brown University Artists Gallery and the Delgado Museum in New Orleans. She had one-man shows at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and at Memphis State University in 1954, at the Brooks Memorial Art Museum in Memphis in 1956, at the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association in 1950 and 1955 and, most importantly, at Ward Eggleston Galleries in New York in 1960, 1962, and 1965. Lemm is represented in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock and the Memphis Academy of Art. She died in 1977.