Somewhere in Time Show Scheduled
Another retrospective show of Lady O’s life work is scheduled at the Photography Center of the Capital District in Troy this year. The dates will be announced soon.
Lady Ostapeck, 1918–2017
Alma “Lady” Ostapeck, formerly of Fly Creek, New York, died at 1 a.m. on February 2, 2017, twenty days before her 99th birthday.
She was born on February 22, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York, to Mr. and Mrs. Esa Kaukinen . Her father had recently arrived from Finland.
Lady Ostapeck’s mother died a few days after her birth and her father went to the Northwest for lumbering. She was raised for two years by her mother's sister in Brooklyn, Connecticut — a Finnish enclave. Her aunt and family were murdered by a deranged axe-wielding neighbor farmer, who spared the baby.
After being shuffled among several Finnish families, she was adopted — formally or informally is not known —by “Mamma” Janson, a widow with a preteen daughter, Ellen, in New Jersey. Lady O worked for a time at nearby aluminum plant where Ellen also worked.
She was married briefly to Peter Ostapeck. A son, Bruce, was on born August 27, 1940, in Englewood, New Jersey. Bruce Ostapeck died on June 30, 2001, at age 60. Peter Ostapeck died on July 12, 2014, in West Milford, New Jersey, age at 99.
Later in life, Lady O recalled that she did not wish to remain a traditional housewife, working through the 1940s as negative retoucher for studios in Manhattan using the name Alma Jordan. At the same time she became self-educated in art and design, spending many hours in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
She worked briefly a dress designer. These artistic attributes became evident in her portrait photography.
Ostapeck tired of working in New York City and purchased a farmhouse in Fly Creek to accommodate her horse, moving from New Jersey around 1960. She adopted the name Lady from the appellation “Lady with Horse.”
With no formal schooling in photography, purchased a Korona 4 x 5 studio view camera manufactured about 1910 at the Utica Salvation Army. After disassembling, repairing, and reassembling the camera, Lady O taught herself photography, including darkroom work.
Through ensuing decades, Lady O compiled large collections of clothing and props to be used in her unique style of Victorian portraiture. Her photos and paintings have been exhibited in more than a dozen exhibits in the United States and Finland. She has been published in photography magazines. Lady O was a founding member and fellow in the former New Pictorialist Society.
Lady O’s most recent four exhibits at the Photography Center of the Capital District in Troy, New York, and two major retrospectives in Kotka and Tampere, Finland, in 2008 and 2012. She was the subject of two video biographies made by director-producer Peter Marshall in 2001 and Omonike Akinyemi in 2005 and two books of her portraits published by the Photography Center. Funeral arrangement are with the Tillapaugh Funeral Home in Cooperstown. A memorial service in May is being planned. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Fly Creek United Methodist Church, Box 128, 811 Co Rd 26, Fly Creek, NY 13337.