Jo Ann Jaacks: Try to picture this

Dora Cox blueberries painting

Dora Cox blueberries painting

Jo Ann Jaacks

Since I moved into an apartment from the 1800s just five months ago, it’s been a challenge to display all the artwork I brought with me since I can only use the nails that are already on the walls.

I hung all the small pieces and set one on the fireplace mantel, but the heavier pieces, most of which are framed with museum glass, are still swathed in the same bubble wrap used for the move.

I also had a vintage easel that I used for two large collage posters to take turns with exhibiting. It didn’t occur to me at first to use the easel to display one of the larger, heavier pieces of art because it was thin-wooded, rickety and paint-splattered.

One early morning while searching for something in my small utility closet, I had an “Aha!” moment. I had one smaller, lighter piece of art on top of the larger pieces and it was an original watercolor by the same woman who gave me the rickety and paint-splattered easel — Dora Cox.

I don’t remember exactly when and where I met Dora, but I will never forget our friendship. She was a member of my church when my husband and I stage-managed an annual event called the Fête and Faire. She participated in that with her artwork, so that is probably my most vivid memory because she complained about the booth being in the sun.

There was one line in her obituary that sums up the Dora I knew: “From the age of 3, when she walked herself to kindergarten and refused to leave (becoming the school’s youngest student) to teaching watercolor at home in 2011, Dora was a lifelong learner.”

I would add to that, “She was a force of nature who enjoyed life to the fullest, and always opinionated, determined, talented and kind.”

Dora shared with me that, although she had her artwork in very prestigious companies and countries around the globe, her dream was to become a writer. To that end, she joined a writer’s group that met in the Litchfield Community Center and she and I participated in open writers’ reading events in the Litchfield Hills and at Toymakers in Falls Village. When she asked what I would like as a birthday gift, I asked for a copy of her lovely rendering of blueberries.

Dora told me a true-life story from her time in Canada that she thought would be the great American (or Canadian) story. I explained that it was based on conjecture and yes, wouldn’t it be a great book of fiction, but she still had family/friends in Canada. She agreed to think it over. She died at the age of 90, but she didn’t need to write the great American (or Canadian) story to leave behind an indelible mark.