Elizabeth’s Bio

Betty Jo

Betty Jo Anne Fisher was born November 6, 1939 in Lafayette, Indiana, the third of four children. It appears they moved to Florida around 1945, then later migrated to San Diego, California after her younger brother was born. She grew up in Pacific Beach and despite a strict mother, would find ways to taunt rules, break free and run away.

When she finally was able to get out of the house, BJ was able to support herself as a bookkeeper. But she wasn’t happy at it and spent most of her life experimenting with different jobs. Sometimes she would bluff her way into positions for which she had absolutely no training or experience; from Conversion Analyst (she brought down a large insurance billing system), to Limo Driver (toting around rock stars) to Private Investigator and Interior Designer. An example of her flirtation with different personas was when she worked at Gucci’s on Rodeo Drive for two weeks, then grabbed her sister and daughter to stay in Mexico as a Travel Photographer for the next month.

More than anything, she wanted to be a star. She took guitar, ballet, modeling and acting lessons. It was said that she really did not need the acting lessons.

BJ was an impetuous romantic, which led to five marriages (two of which actually overlapped), four divorces, one annulment, and a common law husband. One of her husbands had to go underground, and so she lived off the grid with him for many years. During this time, they moved discreetly from town to town, gambling for their income.

She had begun experimenting with paints and ink drawings on and off for awhile. When she and her outlaw husband ended up in a safe house in Santa Monica, they had to keep a pretty low profile. This is where she began to really focus on drawing. By 1981, Betty Jo had changed her name (and general identity) to Elizabeth, a name she felt was more in keeping with being an Artist.

Elizabeth

Because her husband was a fugitive, Elizabeth had to use her sister’s address to obtain a driver’s license. But as the trail became hotter, they had to separate. In 1983, Elizabeth returned to San Diego, although she could not work on any official basis, much less file taxes by this point. She and her sister, got together and rented a trendy apartment loft in uptown Hillcrest, perfect for a couple of Artists. Somewhere around the mid-1980s, they both ended up moving to West Hollywood, where Elizabeth worked as the Restaurant Manager at the Los Angeles Tennis Club. It was here she met David, the love of her life. While she was in L.A. she lived in the servant’s quarters of one of the homes off the golf course, perfect for her to spend hours and hours drawing and experimenting with pointillism.

Her sister returned to San Diego, but Elizabeth stayed in L.A. and continued to immerse herself in her pen-and-inks and sought to find a way to make a living at it. She tried greeting cards and album covers, but wasn’t finding a market. So she drew for herself mostly. David died suddenly of a heart attack, and she never really got over him. She kept his ashes in little bottles all around the apartment.

It appears that she was initially diagnosed with Lung Cancer around December 2004, and after a few surgeries and a brief attempt at chemotherapy she died on April 23, 2006. When she passed, diva that she was, her hair was pulled back neatly in a perfect bun, as was her style; and her nails were perfect, her skin flawless.

She left behind an exquisite collection of drawings, many of them unfinished.

 

Recent Posts

Learning to Hunt

StoriescroppedYou’ve seen those nature documentaries that feature wild baby animals, following them from birth to independence. Furry and wide-eyed at first, they pull at your heartstrings because you know that they are entirely dependent on their dutiful mothers for survival. Fuzzy little cheetah heads and open, hungry eagle beaks, all desperate and competing for food and safety. We watch from the couch while the story unfolds, capturing important, triumphant moments of the young animals as they learn their lessons of survival and life. We know that some of them will tragically fail while others live to struggle another day. The lessons of each generation are not learned in a vacuum, but are taught so the offspring will someday be able to live on their own, contribute to the tribe, or simply perpetuate the species. This is the natural goal of parenting, to teach the young to survive, ultimately without the parents.

We all start out as these hungry baby birds, these squawking, needy suckling babies, who in our first laborious day will transform our mother into a role of great responsibility to the social order, that of provider, teacher, martyr. Fortunately for us, nature makes children  adorable enough that our mothers – at least most of them – do not abandon us immediately! Instead, they dedicate themselves to teaching us to walk and talk, and eventually to be able to feed ourselves, out of love to us, and perhaps duty to the world. This is the equivalent of teaching us to hunt.

Some of us will make it and others may not. Like our animal brothers and sisters, we grieve our profound losses and move on. As humans we honor those lost in our hearts and keep alive the memories they’ve given us, so that their lives were not in vain.

In my own journey as a child, I was jealous of the other kids who seemed to have had more of a childhood, who were encouraged to enjoy their youth and not think too much about survival. They got to go camping and to Disneyland and had lots of sleepovers. Most were sheltered from bills and death and conflict. In contrast, I was most definitely not sheltered, and in fact probably exposed to the seedier side of life earlier than many. Make no mistake, my mom was loving and supportive if I showed any sign of faltering, but she would quickly challenge me to buck up, dust off, and move on. I liken her to a mare nudging me to rise and stand; she knew that my survival would depend on it. Only now can I fully appreciate the gifts of independence won through courage, of strength built on strife, and of wisdom from failure. Of course at the time I thought she was a complete witch.

So, now. It has been eight years since my mother has passed, and every day I hear her voice nudging me, teaching me, reminding me how to hunt. It is painful and yet beautiful, an honor to her life, and the life she has given me. Thank you mom; you have not raised a child, you have raised an adult.

 

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