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Connie Fox, Leading Abstract Expressionist, 98

Wed, 06/28/2023 - 18:58
Copyright 2017, Marc Veit Schwaer

A leading Abstract Expressionist painter whose output spanned seven decades, Connie Fox’s work is represented in the Guild Hall Museum, the Parrish Art Museum, and at major museums across the country, including the Brooklyn Museum and the Albright-Knox Gallery, now known as the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. In 2013, she received a Purchase Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Connie Marie Fox died peacefully at home in East Hampton on June 19. She was 98.

Born and raised in Fowler, Colo., to Hurley Wellington Fox and the former Eva Kathryn Marty, Ms. Fox received a B.F.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1947 and attended the Art Center School in Los Angeles from 1948 to summer 1950.

Afterward, she took a thousand-mile bicycle trip through Europe with friends. It happened that on Nov. 1 she was in St. Peter’s Square in Rome when Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of Mary to be dogma. Bill King, an artist, was there at the same time, and they crossed paths during the 1960s at an art opening in Berkeley, Calif., but it was only in 1980, after she moved to East Hampton, that they found themselves together again — as fiddlers in Audrey Flack’s bluegrass band.

The road to East Hampton ran through Albuquerque, where Ms. Fox studied art and anthropology at the University of New Mexico and, in 1954, married Blair M. Boyd Jr., with whom she had two children, Megan and Brian. Along with several others, the couple founded the Albuquerque Modern Museum. It was also in New Mexico, in 1957, that she met Elaine de Kooning, and a longtime friendship began.

“That was the beginning of my exposure to Abstract Expressionism,” she told The Star. “There was a version going on there, and it was helped along when Elaine came.”

Ms. Fox lived in Berkeley from 1962 to 1968 and exhibited her art in San Francisco. From there, she moved to Sewickley, Pa., where she taught at Carnegie Mellon University. Her marriage to Mr. Boyd had ended, and she married Max Braverman in Pennsylvania in 1969; that union lasted five years.

In 1979, with her two children in college, “Elaine said to me, ‘You’ve got to move out here.’ Bob Dash was also an old friend of mine from the University of New Mexico. But I didn’t know much about the place.” That changed when, while visiting de Kooning, she bought a house in Northwest Woods.

“My work blossomed when I moved here,” Ms. Fox told The Star. “Part of it was building a big studio to work in, but I think I was ripe to expand, and begin to really produce and find my own voice. . . . Things just came together here, and I met Bill, and that was really nice.”

Ms. Fox and King, who were longtime fixtures of the East End art community, were together until his death in 2015. They were married on Aug. 17, 2003, at a Zen ceremony officiated by Roshi Peter Matthiessen in the Sagaponack garden of his Ocean Zendo, of which Ms. Fox was a member.

King, a well-known sculptor, was one of the founders of LTV, the East Hampton public-access station, and the pair were involved there from its inception. They produced “New York Review of Art,” for which they recorded interviews with local artists and visited galleries in New York.

A second program was “Art Beat,” which ran from 1985 to 1987 and included interviews with Joan Semmel, David Slifka, Li Lan, Hedda Sterne, Ibram Lassaw, and Miriam Schapiro. The couple also produced three plays by Joe Pintauro for the station.

Ms. Fox often visited Sammy’s Beach in East Hampton, where she walked and swam with King and de Kooning. Those visits inspired a series of abstract paintings that were shown in 2014 at the Danese/Corey Gallery in Chelsea, as well as a series of drawings.

Of the drawings, Jennifer Landes wrote in The Star, “These layered and dense examinations on paper using white, gray, and black, and charcoal, ink, and acrylic, are busy and complicated in a stark yet evocative way.”

Ms. Fox is survived by her children, Megan Edith Chaskey of Sag Harbor and Brian Blair Boyd of Camden, Me., as well as five grandchildren: Levin, Rowenna, and Liam Chaskey, and Fiona and Gavin Boyd. Two great-grandsons, Aiden and Owen Chaskey, also survive. Other survivors are Scott Chaskey, Megan’s husband; Kit Harrison, Brian’s spouse, and Alexis Chaskey, Levin’s wife.

A memorial is planned here in the fall. The family has expressed gratitude to East End Hospice for its “compassionate, expert support.”

Memorial contributions have been suggested to the National Association of Women Artists,, or the Peter Matthiessen Center,

At the request of the family, this article has been modified from its original and print version by removing the lead paragraph and correcting several details.

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