Artist and Creator of "Sea Curtains" passes at 91
A woman of great energy, always searching to understand the world around her, Audrey Opal Sochor enjoyed a full life of learning, painting, theatre, and art. Born in White Earth Township, N.D. November 22, 1922, first daughter to Henry and Lena Syverson, Audrey spent the early years of her life on the prairie freely exploring the great open spaces, herding cows with her sister, Hazel. Always highly skilled with her hands, Audrey learned sewing, knitting, and cooking from her mother. At 11, her family moved to Clear Lake, Calif. initially to care for her ailing grandmother, and later settled in Colusa, in the Sacramento Valley. Audrey graduated from Colusa High School in June of 1940. In January of 1944, at the age of 22, Audrey enlisted in the Women's Army Corp to support the efforts of the country during WWII. She was assigned to the Army Air Force Base Unit Weather Division, stationed in Ashville, N.C. where she met her future husband, Arthur Sochor. Art and Audrey were soul-mates, sharing a keen interest in literature, education, and politics. Art's charm and sense of humor were a perfect foil to Audrey's intensity and defiance. The two were married February 5, 1945 and Audrey received her honorable discharge papers as a Sergeant from the Army Air Force on her birthday, the same year.
Always an avid reader, Audrey developed a great love for learning, which remained with her throughout her life. She attended the University of California, Berkeley and graduated in 1947 as an Education major. She and Art settled in the Berkeley area and lived in Northern California until 1986. During this time, Audrey pursued her passion for painting and textiles, searching for self-expression through these mediums. First working in oils, later switching to acrylics and inks, Audrey began experimenting with painting on fabrics other than canvas. Always attracted to the softness of watercolors, Audrey's work in fabric remained oriented towards colors found in a flower garden, beach, or under the sea, reflecting her strong connection to our Earth.
An educator by profession, Art was also an expert on the works of Shakespeare, loved drama, and exposed Audrey to the joys of the theatre and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Both Art and Audrey returned to school while they were living in Davis, Calif. and Audrey received her MFA in Stage Design in 1984 at the age of 60. Never one to be afraid of a challenge, Audrey decided that it would be beneficial to both her and Art to move to Ashland, Ore. to begin a new chapter in their lives as innkeepers. Purchasing a 1890s farmhouse, the two restored and remodeled the main house and carriage house into a charming bed and breakfast, seeking to enter into the busy tourist industry of Ashland. Art's expertise in Shakespeare and Audrey's skills as a cook and artist allowed them to create a unique experience for their guests. In a few short years, their Arden Forest Inn was busy and successful. Despite the rigors of being an innkeeper, Audrey continued to pursue her painting on silks, developing techniques for depicting scenes that would shimmer, by placing two sheer paintings of similar but different scenes on top of one another. Intrigued by the moir effect that the two paintings created, Audrey began to experiment with the representation of natural elements infused with the light that fabric allowed through.
After several years, Art and Audrey retired as innkeepers and moved to the Rogue Valley Manor. Audrey could now devote herself entirely to her art, which she pursued vigorously. She developed a fascination with sea animals and plants, and discovered that her double silk technique could create the illusion of an underwater scene. She expanded her technique to include airbrushing as a means to express the invisible molecular structure of the water. Also during this time, Audrey worked extensively as a printmaker, working with inks, feet, glass, plastics - developing images that appear to be created by the retreating ocean surf. Beginning in 1999, Audrey began showing her Sea Curtains, 10 foot high double silk paintings of an underwater world, at the Grants Pass Museum of Art. In 2000, her Sea Curtains were shown at the Rogue Gallery in Medford and over the next decade, she continued to show her work in various galleries throughout Oregon. Never one to stop seeking, Audrey expanded her Sea Curtains experience by adding interactive lighting, complimentary fabric kelp gardens and jelly fish paintings, and later enriched the scenes with fabric tendrils and string netting. The overall effect was one of wonder, light, peace, and beauty.
Audrey is survived by her sister, Hazel Quick of Peterborough, N.H.; niece, Nancy Quick of Jaffrey, N.H.; nephew, Peter Quick and his family, also of Jaffrey, N.H.; and Pamela Quick and her family of Sudbury, Mass.
Services for Audrey Sochor will be held at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at Eagle Point National Cemetery.