Elizabeth Fairgrieve (1947-2020) was born in Garden City, New York, on July 10, 1947. As the eldest child, she was often entrusted with caring for her younger siblings. That caring and compassionate nature blossomed as Elizabeth became an adult, when she trained to be a Registered Nurse offering care for newborns, and later, for patients in psychiatric care.
Her artistic training really began with her doting grandmothers. Her father’s mother had a naturally artistic nature and Elizabeth loved to look at the colors of the fashion and home magazines, and was exposed to esthetics at an early age. Her mother’s mother also was artistic and expressed herself in designing needlepoint brocades for chairs and benches in her home. Elizabeth was a frequent visitor to both of their nearby homes.
After meeting her husband Bernard Kramer in 1982, Elizabeth started expressing her artistic nature, studying Sumi-e under Koho Yamamoto in New York City. In 1999 Koho gave Elizabeth the name Leiho, signifying beauty and purity.
Though she had had to struggle with the intense pain of trigeminal neuralgia for many years, she bore this burden gracefully, never losing her sense of humor and humanity. Pain is referenced in some of the work, but never became the focus, and in the long run served to magnify her empathy for others’ suffering.
Elizabeth Fairgrieve’s work combines Japanese brush painting, calligraphy, abstract expressionism, and automatic painting. She was also aware of and influenced by the work of Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell, as well as other modern painters. She was recognized by Professor Motoi Oi, and Cecil Uyehara of the Sumi-e Society of America, as a “rugged individualist” who would bring traditonal Sumi-e into the twentieth century. Elizabeth’s work is redolent of the “bokusho” style, a combination of Sumi-e and calligraphy developed after World War II in Japan. Elizabeth exhibited with the Sumi-e Society of America, and in solo exhibitions. Her work can be found in private collections, as well as those works represented here.
Elizabeth feared her work would be discarded after she was gone, and this page is but one attempt to make sure her work and she will not be forgotten, as she certainly will not be by any who knew her personally. Her love and compassion made her deeply loved by those fortunate to have known her, and deeply missed.