In Memoriam – Jackie Russo

Two

Empty Chairs © 2010 Bo Mackison

I only knew her three and a half days.

I met Jackie Russo at the Tempe Festival of the Arts in Tempe Arizona this past March. She was a contemporary stained glass artist and she had a booth across a small pass way from my booth. During the show, we spent a lot of time chatting back and forth – about the show we were doing, about art shows in general, about Arizona, about her transformation from a jeweler to a stained glass artist to an award-winning, contemporary glass artist who found great success in recent years.

At the time, I was doing one of my first large shows in a strange city in a state far away from my home in Wisconsin. Jackie was also from the Midwest, just across Lake Michigan in the neighboring state of Michigan. She was an accomplished, veteran artist. She had her work in galleries and in private collections internationally, had articles in countless publications, taught glass mosaics, and did the best art festivals in the country.

Jackie could tell I was the new kid on the art show circuit and she took me under her wing. She gave me pep talks and shared past stories of failures that turned into surprising successes. She encouraged me in my venture into this part of the artists’ world. She welcomed me and gave me a boost of confidence.

On Sunday evening, as the show was coming to a close, we shared our schedules for the coming summer in the Midwest. When we discovered we would be doing another show together in early August, we made plans to get together for another visit. She and her husband Frank had made vacation plans in the Phoenix area before returning to the snowy Midwest, and they were both looking forward to some sunshine and time off. We said our goodbyes with a big hug.

Last Friday, Jackie Russo had a massive stroke and died.

As I said at the beginning, I only knew Jackie for three and a half days, but she was kind and helpful to me at a time when I needed an extra bit of kindness. I respected her as an artist–her glass creations were stunning and very popular–and I respected her as a wonderful person, too.

There is a lesson in this. One never knows when a proffered kindness to a stranger will make a big difference in that other person’s life. In this case, Jackie’s kindness made a difference in my life when I was questioning my art decisions.

Jackie Russo will be greatly missed.

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Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Goodbye, Jackie, and thank you.

 

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.

Comments

  1. Oh, Bo, what a loss for you! Kindness like that doesn’t come along every day. I chatted with her in Tempe, I knew her when she was a jeweler, and I can’t believe that bright, warm light has gone out. I’m sorry for Frank, and for everyone who loved her big laugh.

  2. It doesn’t matter how well we know someone, when they touch our lives, their death is a loss. Maybe part of all of our collective journey here is about sharing the kind of love Jackie shared with you. I can’t help but think a little of her mission on this Earth must have been to give you the confidence and support to grow in your own work. Her physical presence is gone, but her spirit will always be with you. Thank you for sharing this. I am sorry for your loss.

    In Peace,

    Anna

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thank you Anna, for such comforting words. Yes, I think I can carry a bit of her spirit with me. What a gift she gave.

  3. This is lovely, Bo. It speaks to many of us in this business. One of the reasons we keep going is because of the generous spirit of the people we meet at the art fairs. It is apparent Jackie made a difference in your life. I know you will pass on this gift.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Connie, the art fair people are a generous group of people, indeed. I count myself fortunate to be in the midst of such wonderful folks.

  4. Gandalf says:

    I didn’t know her. I’m not on the Art Fair circuit. I would have liked her. You are fortunate to have known her for a while.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      It makes me think that chance encounters are not always so much chance, but huge opportunities, if we take them.

  5. I know this is a loss, but I also can’t help but think of what a gift that was for you to meet and know Jackie, even for a brief period of time, at a time when you needed that kind of support.

    Wonderful tribute and photos, Bo. Hugs to you.

  6. Bo Mackison says:

    Thank you, Robin. Jackie surely was a gift, I’m sure to many, many people. I count myself fortunate that I knew her for that short time.

  7. So many lessons to be learned here. Mostly – about appreciating one another each and every day..because each one is a gift. Beautiful that you and she shared so little time..and yet – so much.

  8. A nice tribute.

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