By John Hernandez
Race director Darrell Klesch wanted to do something special for the annual event’s commemorative T-shirt.Every year, a local artist’s creation is featured on the front of the T-shirt. Because it was a special time, he chose the art work of a friend of his and a person whose life inspired many of those in Oracle who knew her. Darrell selected a watercolor by Elizabeth Ott of a scene in Oracle’s Cherry Valley. After contacting Elizabeth’s family and friends, an exhibit of her paintings was organized and put on display at the Acadia Museum. The family approved the use of Elizabeth’s painting for the T-shirt.
Elizabeth Ott was born and raised in Tucson. Her interest in art began to grow at the age of 10 while she was laying in bed in a body cast. She spent two years in the body cast as the result of surgery due to scoliosis. She underwent spinal fusions. Elizabeth also suffered from other physical conditions including nephritis and serious kidney disorders for most of her life. Her brother Chuck Ott says that during this time in her life “she began to think and become the angel that she was.”
As she grew older, art became a big part of her life. She studied with the late University of Arizona teacher and renowned artist, Bruce McGrew of Rancho Linda Vista in Oracle.
“Bruce was a big influence on her use of light and negative space,” said Chuck.
Elizabeth eventually moved to Oracle, “seeking a cure,” her brother said. She had been ill all her life and was tired of taking steroids. “She wanted her body to be as healthy as her spirit,” he said. “She would spend many happy years in Cherry Valley and Linda Vista.”
For awhile she got better but in 1983 needed a kidney transplant.
“This gave us all another 10 years during which she soaked in life, traveled, did lots of painting and spent time with family and friends,” said Chuck.
Elizabeth Ott’s paintings may not be displayed in art galleries but she was a very prolific artist. There are many paintings owned by friends and family and those lucky enough to see her work and meet her. She showed her work at the Arizona Inn, St. Phillips in the Hills, Tubac and Oracle. Chuck Ott said that there were more than a few tears shed when they put up her paintings in Oracle again.
Elizabeth died of kidney failure in 1992. She was only 40 years old.
Her brother and friends talk lovingly of her time with them. She impacted many people in a short life, they said. She spread an enormous amount of love around by her example.
“She taught us how precious life is and how much beauty there is in the world,” they said.
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