A portrait and figure painter as well as sculptor and designer, she was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on September 15, 1924, the daughter of John Russell “Jack” Smith and Nellie Chase. She was raised by Sioux Falls school teachers Dora and June Smith, her paternal aunts. She married Lowell Rochester, had five boys, and lived in Rapid City for many years. Rochester studied at the Institute Allende in Mexico and is known for her classical paintings evoking Matisse and O’Keefe as well as for wearable art, sculpture and her portrayal of Native American life, especially women. Her portrayals are devoid of cliches and depict her own concept of Native Americans, their folklore and traditions. She herself saw four distinct stages in her work and the addition of dogs and other animals into her whimsical and romantic work as a significant step.
She said: “In my work, I make sure that I’m never repetitious. Each painting is a new creation, a new composition and a new idea.”
“My paintings are a world of youth, a secret world of leisure and play, of lovely places, chateaux, barns, castles, and country houses. It’s a world apart from today’s realism and society’s struggles.”
Jacqueline Beverly Rochester O’Connor passed on in her sleep on February 12, 2010.