The late artist will be featured in an exhibit at the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation that highlights her varied painting and drawing methods.
In simplest terms, Dorothy Kannon was an artist. But Kannon wasn’t a simple artist. She created imaginative works of art through a variety of mediums, including oils, charcoal and watercolors, and was fascinated by nature and the ethereal.
Born in 1931, Kannon grew up in Winter Garden and graduated in 1949 from Lakeview High School. She was one of four artists to have an oil painting accepted into the Annual National Exhibition in 1949, which resulted in letters of praise from President Harry S. Truman, Sen. Claude Pepper and Gov. Fuller Warren.
The following year, she studied watercolor technique and debuted her art in a private exhibition. Several of her pieces were sold.
After graduating from Florida State University in 1955, she worked as an artist at Florida Technological University (now University of Central Florida), she taught lettering and graphic design, and she served as assistant director at the Jacksonville Children’s Museum.
Her nephew, Greg Kannon, who grew up in Winter Garden, marveled at her intelligence and guidance.
“(I) spent a lot of time with her later on in life,” Greg Kannon said. “It is hard to even come up with a single idea to capture the spirit and life Aunt Dot lived. One overarching thought is many people saw her as an artist; she was that, but, for me, she was a guide/teacher. She taught me art, how to play the harpsichord, how to notice beauty around me, how to not be so quick to judge others, how to value life.
“Maybe the greatest impact was her love and guidance on taking care of creation and the earth,” he said. “Her home on Lake Harney was a virtual Garden of Eden with the many plants she cared for and nurtured. We spent many of her last years out in her paradise discussing life and history. She was a teacher for me in lessons shaping my life, and I had the privilege to officiate her funeral as she rejoined the earth she so loved.”
Chris Chan, the artist’s great-nephew, said he spent time with her when he was young.
“She made incredibly beautiful dot paintings for us kids, beautiful angels all made up of dots,” Chan said.
Kannon had cancer in her later years but still took on a project called “Exultation of Angels.” This is an album of hand-inked winged beings done in a pointillist style.
Kannon wrote in her introduction:
“These past few years, more than ever, I have been drawing for self-comfort/care. To center and quieten myself, focus in on forming an image, has felt of the safeness, the most familiar ‘room of my own,’ my heart-hearth, the intimate intensity of one’s own inner space. The Angels are with us … open to them, call upon these reaches of love-light-life-care. And so I share – out from me to the circlings of friends and kin. To me this is happiness, this is healing, this is being a hand of the Hand. Hope, ‘loving kindness, care, and mercy’ — this matters.”
Kannon lived in Geneva at the time of her death in 2008.