Phyllis Ross Focusing on Life by John Ayes (Ayes Hyper Visualism) Life happens I guess – living and passing on is inevitable. The art communities of Orlando, St Cloud and Osceola County, Florida are mourning the loss of a giant of a woman in the recent passing of Ms. Phyllis Ross. She had fought valiantly against breast cancer 15 years ago and won. But Jan. 10, 2007 she lost her battle with the complications of pancreatic cancer.
I met her in 2003 and from the first moment I saw her, shook her hand and spoke with her I knew that the Osceola Center for the Arts had made a good choice in hiring her for the position of its Visual Arts Director.She was an artist who had taken the art to the next level by channeling her creative energies to bring art and community together on a common ground so that each and everyone, artist and art patron could benefit from the experience equally. As it turned out later she was a dynamo on behalf of the arts in three communities. She managed to coordinate the Osceola Center for the Arts Artist’s Associates and the Osceola Center for the Art Center’s Art league putting together exhibition venues within the communities of St Cloud and Osceola County’s many public buildings.She was the first Art Director to be open to my idea of exhibiting Hispanic art within the community and backed me up one hundred percent when I got the idea for the venue, The Puerto Rican – Florida Art Connection and we both ran with the inspiration to the Kissimmee City Hall’s administration. Five Hispanic artists, including myself, got the opportunity to get their art showcased for over thirty days at the City Hall, reviewed in three news papers and on Access Osceola TV via Brite House Networks. The Puerto Rican community also got a chance to exhibit the best their artists had to offer at the Art Center as well.
Her energy didn’t stop there – folks. An art gallery, Gallery One, the first of its kind, was opened in St. Cloud and then moved to downtown Kissimmee that would showcase the work of community artists – hobbyist and professional artists got equal space and billing to exhibit their art. She managed countless monumental annual out door art exhibits and coordinated the artists who attended them on behalf of Mainstreet, down town Kissimmee every year of her tenure as art director. She even encouraged me and others to judge a children’s art exhibit….A hard task for her because I am always so busy with my own exhibitions around town. We hung many a painting together in preparation for an exhibit or two. She took great care in making sure that the art fit into the limited space it was hung in and not to damage any of it too. There are other things she did on behalf of the arts that I didn’t get to see and from what I have heard, she did them impeccably. The struggle against the beast of pancreatic cancer was fought with that strong will and determination of hers that she worked on behalf of her community. She stood up to this frightful illness for over two years. And you know what? She kept on devoting what time she had left to the arts, artists and her beloved communities at large right up to the end. I last saw her while she was coordinating the downtown art exhibit of sculptures created by community artists a couple of months ago….She looked a little tired….But the passion and love for the arts radiated from her still.