Artist, triathlete, returns to teach and compete

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Artist Elizabeth St. Hillaire Nelson returns to the area this weekend to compete in the Keuka Triathlon before teaching a class in paper painting techniques early next week at the Yates County Arts Center.

Artist Elizabeth St. Hillaire Nelson made the acquaintance of Bob "Flick" Flickinger last summer when she came to Keuka Lake to teach a class for the Arts Center of Yates County and made the eight mile commute from the Center's Sunny Point facility into town and back each day on her bicycle. Flick was the coordinating force behind the Arts Center's renovation and move to Main Street, and was also a cycling enthusiast.

In addition to the work he did for the Arts Center, Flick was actively involved with the local Red Cross Chapter. He was killed in a bicycling accident last fall. When Elizabeth heard that this year's Keuka Triathlon (which benefits the Red Cross) was being held in Bob's memory, she signed right on. Returning to teach a class at the Arts Center, she coordinated the June 3-4 dates with the triathlon, and arranged to ship her bike here from Florida.

Local artists describe Elizabeth as a colorful (from purple hair to outrageous shoes) and energetic (from taking up triathlons at 40 to teaching all over the country to marketing her art and baking crazy cupcakes for her family) person. Bonnie Barney says, "Her art, like her personality, is bright, whimsical, full of fantasy and appreciation for the beauty of all life."

Elizabeth has reason to celebrate the wonderful life she lives. As a Syracuse University student studying in London in 1988, she stayed behind while 35 classmates boarded Pan Am flight 103 to fly home for Christmas. A terrorist bomb brought that plane down over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all on board. Elizabeth lost three of her four roommates and other friends as well.

With memories of these dear friends, Elizabeth vows never to look back on her own life with regrets for missed opportunities.

She and her husband have their own design business. They work from home to keep a tight knit family with son Connor and daughter Emilie. And Elizabeth's collage paper paintings have brought her success and fame in the art world.

She will be teaching those paper painting techniques at The Arts Center of Yates County June 3-5 (call 315-536-8226 or go to for more information on this class), commuting once again by bicycle. But first she will compete in the June 2 Keuka Triathlon, with many local artists cheering her on.