Elizabeth “Betty” Orrett

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Elizabeth "Betty" Orrett
Elizabeth “Betty” Orrett

Pacific Grove Art Center, Boyer Gallery, March 3-April 27, 2017

Elizabeth “Betty” Orrett — An Artful Remembrance (1920-2015)


Elizabeth “Betty” Orrett, a native of Oakland, California, earned her BA degree from UC Berkeley in 1943. After naval service in WW11 and a career as a meteorologist for Pan American, she moved to the Monterey Peninsula with her family in 1953.

In her youth, she studied ballet and later figure skating, and was greatly influenced by her mother’s artistic sensibility. Her father’s contribution was a ‘father and daughter’ excursion to San Francisco to experience the Chinese New Year parade. The Dragon Dance left a lasting impression on the young Betty for its coordinated moving parts, cultural colors, and legendary sounds.

Elizabeth began the serious pursuit of visual art training late in her adult life, after raising two sons and being an active contributor to peninsula life. She was also an avid, skilled tennis player and travelled the world with her globe-trotting husband, Moe Orrett. She studied flamenco dance well into her 80’s.

Although basically self-taught, Ms. Orrett studied locally with Anita de Carlo, Mark Farina, Dick Crispo, and Jan Valtr. She won best-in-the-show several times at the Monterey County Fair, and mounted one-person shows in Carmel, at Del Mesa Gallery, and John Tenant Auditorium in Pacific Grove.

Betty has said of herself:

So when did I start this eternal quest to register what I see and feel?
-At age 4 with chalk and slate.

Art Education?
-1-year study of contemporary art at UC Berkeley which I devoured
-A personal library of art books
-European Masters
-Japanese and Chinese art and calligraphy

Then years later:
– In the best adult school art classes like Carmel Unified with excellent teachers
– In global travel
– In big and little museums
– In shop window displays
– In music and dance

The real test for me:

Through her joy of water color painting and pen and ink, we see a Zen sense of line and color, and a true gift to render form and movement with visual impact.

Authenticity, integrity, and often whimsy, permeate her art pieces.


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