Renowned artist Elizabeth “Sissie” Barr, a co-founder of the Winter Park Autumn Art Festival, died December 29, 2020, in New Smyrna Beach, after a brief illness. She was 94.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Felix and Etta Winn who moved from Georgia to Orlando, where Elizabeth was born in 1926. She graduated from Orlando High School, attended Rollins College and graduated from the University of Georgia, where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority. Upon graduation she was hired by the U.S. Department of State and joined the foreign service.
“Although my background was small-town Orlando, I had no desire to return home right away. I was ready to see the world,” Elizabeth recalled. “All I had was Florida clothes, so I requested that instead of London or Paris, they post me somewhere warm.” She was stationed in Cairo, Egypt, for several years before returning to Orlando where she was hired by the Orlando Sentinel as executive secretary to Martin Andersen, the newspaper’s owner and publisher. It was through Andersen that she met her future husband, Graham Barr, an Orlando businessman and the twin brother of Gracia Andersen, wife of Martin Andersen. They married in 1954.
The couple traveled extensively over the years, throughout Europe and Asia, and often spent summers at their home in Highlands, N.C. They moved to New Smyrna Beach full time in 1984, remodeling a beach cottage they had bought in the 1960s.
One of the few Florida artists to have a painting at Winter Park’s Morse Museum of Art, Elizabeth exhibited her work widely at art shows and galleries, winning numerous awards. Her work was largely based on Florida themes, inspired by its diverse landscapes – sand dunes, salt marshes, swamps, cypress and palm trees. She was also an accomplished sculptor.
Even as eyesight failed her, Elizabeth continued to paint almost every day. Her most recent work included vivid paintings of flowering tabebuia trees and azaleas, along with strutting peacocks along Winter Park’s Genius Drive.
She is pre-deceased by her husband, Graham, who died in 2009. Elizabeth is survived by a son, Thomas Graham Barr, of New York City; two daughters, Gracia E. Barr, of Tucson, and Katie Neathery, of West Palm Beach; two grandchildren, Karey C. Graham, of Denver, and Rachel Graham, of West Palm Beach, and nephews Terry Winn and Allen Winn, of Sanford.
Memorial services will be announced at a later date. Donations in Sissie’s memory can be made to Hospice Port Orange.