OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – The Ohio Valley has lost a creative soul this week in a tragic way.
One long-time community member was struck and killed by a car, but she is being remembered by Oglebay Institute for her artistic legacy she leaves behind.
In Jean Och’s 90 years, Stifel Fine Arts Center says 70 were spent making Wheeling a more vibrant place to live. While leaving this earth at 90 years of age, artists who knew Jean say she had so much spirit left in her.
When she came into the room, you noticed her.Rick Morgan, Director at Stifel Fine Arts Center
She was 90 years old, but she enjoyed life.Michael Mckowen, Currator at Stifel Fine Arts Center
From her first painting, to her last, Jean’s creative genre never grew dull, constantly morphing; coined a rarity in the field.
It really doesn’t get any better, because as an artist, it’s really easy to find the things that you’re good at and just stay in that place and keep doing that, but she was never satisfied. She just continued to explore.Michael Mckowen, Currator at Stifel Fine Arts Center
She passed on that love for art through her family. She was inspired at a young age by her grandmother and then started seriously to pursue art over the years and then she has children, grandchildren, great grandchildren that are very active in the arts.Danielle Cross-Mccracken, President of Oglebay Institute
A Stifel art exhibit in March, cut short due to the pandemic, featured Jean’s last painting. The exhibit was themed around “Age”. A concept that fit Jean like a pond lilly in a flower shop. There was a wildness in her that could not be contained. And other artists took notice.
Love, absolutely love, and I was hoping she was going to give it to me. It’s this piece she created when she was 89 years old. It’s observation. It’s just her examining herself being in this 89-year-old body. And it’s beautiful.Michael Mckowen, Currator at Stifel Fine Arts Center
Oglebay Institute is community based, knowing Jean as a friend, the group hurts too in this loss.
The art world, especially in this valley, knows her talent and sees her work around. So, she’s going to be greatly missed.Rick Morgan, Director at Stifel Fine Arts Center
Oglebay Institute will be 90 years old this summer and it’s because of people like Jean, community members, that support our work.Danielle Cross-Mccracken, President of Oglebay Institute
Now Stifel coordinators say Jean’s vibrancy will be carried on for generations to come, documented in her artwork at the center.