Advocate November 16, 2002

by Ryan Goudelocke.

BR native subscribes to 'just do it' attitude

[Excerpts only]


Advocate staff photos by Kerry Maloney  

     Author and artist Sylvia Rochester relishes 
     her home's proximity to her main source of 
     subjects for her art, Bayou Corne and its 
     associated swamps.

Maury Drummond, a Hammond doctor, said that only in recent months has his mother taken up the paint brushes she put down about 15 years ago.

Friends and family describe Sylvia Rochester as a Renaissance woman -- a former Peace Corps volunteer, artist, author and soon-to-be retiree.

She relocated about six years ago to a house a stone's throw from Bayou Corne near Belle Rose, north of Morgan City.

Rochester spends much of her time searching out landscapes for her bayou-themed paintings and dreaming up romantic fiction set in south Louisiana. She said her solemn bald cypress oil paintings, minutely rendered to the fibers of Spanish moss, sell well both at her Web site and at a Baton Rouge gallery.

The swamp in Sylvia Rochester's back yard near Bayou Corne is where she boats, fishes and finds inspiration for her cypress-themed paintings.

"I've always been one who wanted to just do it," Rochester said, laughing. "I should have been in the Nike commercials."

Rochester attributes her refound enthusiasm for both painting and writing to the idyllic setting at her Bayou Corne house -- in a complex of small streets, with names like Gumbo and Sauce Piquante Lane. The area is home to many former Baton Rouge residents.

"She was all over that bayou and the Atchafalaya Basin real soon after she moved down there," said Rochester's sister, Flavia Wright, a sixth-grade sciences teacher at Parkview Baptist School. "She took me out into those waters and I was lost five minutes after we left her house. But she already knew her way around."

…Rochester said her scenes and inspiration come from the swamps….

"I love it!" Rochester said even as Tropical Storm Isidore bore down on her bayou backwater in September. She was riding out the storm, of course.



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