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Lady of Style:

Lady Ostapeck’s American Costumes and Portraits

On Exhibit in Finland

Lady O had a major exhibition in Finland. A Lady of Style: Lady Ostapeck’s American Costumes and Portraits opened on March 18, 2011 and ran through March 18, 2012 at Museum Centre Vapriikki in Tampere.

Others Views of the Show


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tamperelainen Finnish Newspaper Interview

allotsego Feature

Lady O as the Finns see her


I first came across her work when I was on the panel of selectors and feel her photography will continue to gain wider recognition.

David Bateman, ARPS, judge for the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain 1978 International Exhibition

How pleased I am that we finally got to print your portraits. Although you are creating a bygone era, you somehow manage to produce results that strike no false notes.

Kenneth Poli, former editor, Popular Photography

The romantic realist.

Henry Allen Moe

A Fellow of the New Pictorialist Society, Lady Ostapeck’s work continues to enchant.

Ed Romney, former editor, New Pictorialist

She looks deep with those big grey eyes and sees more than others. She sees the person’s dreams.

Aamulehti, Finland

It is our good fortune that this unusual and delightful exhibition has come to Tampere.

Jarmo Jansson, photo critic, Finland

In all likelihood, Lady is going to create a new vogue in Finland.

Paul Sjoblom, critic, Suomi Silta

June 17, 2010

Finn Curators Visit Ostapeck Collection

By Greg Sorin
The Freeman’s Journal, Cooperstown

Noted photographer Lady Ostapeck, now 92, is gone to Oneonta. but hasn't been forgotten in the Fly Creek Valley — or the Finland of her parents' birth.
Two curators and architect from the Vapriikki Museum in Tampere accompanied Lady in recent days back to the Greek revival cottage


July 13, 2007

Lady of the Valley

Celebrated Local Photographer, a Young 89, Will Be Featured in Capitol District Exhibit

By Jim Kevlin
The Freeman’s Journal, Cooperstown

She was given a Lady Ostapeck sitting as a high-school graduation present.

The young woman arrived in blue jeans, hair all over her head; a teenager like many others. No picture of aristocracy here.

But after several hours with the Otsego Lake region’s most idiosyncratic and irresistible photographer, a different personality was captured on film.


January 15, 2005

Portrait of a lady of destiny

By Lisa Miller
for the
Oneonta Daily Star

They used to call her the lady with the horse, but now the horse is dead and she is just Lady.

She lives alone in an old farmhouse on a hill in Fly Creek, has lived there for nearly half a century, collecting things and transforming people. She is an artist with a career that has brought her some notoriety but not much money; a career she began on a whim and now says she was destined to pursue.


December 23, 2004

Bassett hosts Lady Ostapeck exhibit

bassettCooperstown — Hundreds of employees enjoyed the extraordinary artistry of Lady Ostapeck during Bassett Healthcare’s Annual Holiday Tea held December 16. Ostapeck chose the occasion for a special photo exhibit of approximately 20 portraits, her first exhibit in about five years. Bassett will display Ostapeck’s work, “The Faces of Bassett,” as it includes portraits of Bassett employees, physicians, and administrators, from January 2 through 11 in their fieldstone lobby on Atwell Road. The exhibit is free and open to everyone.


August 27, 2003

Local artists receive grants

The New York Foundation of the Arts has given a total of $2,320

Oneonta Daily StarStaff Report

Four local artists have received a total of $2,320 through the Upper Catskill Community Council of the Arts’ Special Opportunity Stipend Program.


February 20, 2003

Come celebrate Lady with us!

By Jim Atwell
CoopersTown Crier ©2003

Fly Creek is throwing a party, and you’re all invited. The party’s this Saturday, February 22, from 2 to 4:30 at the Fly Creek Methodist Church. No presents, please, but cards and mementos are welcome.
What are we celebrating?

Why, the 85th birthday of Lady Ostapeck, Fly Creek’s most treasured resident.


November 7, 2002

Ostapeck to present picture of her work

By Kelly Bruni
Staff Writer
CoopersTown Crier ©2000-2003

Fly Creek photographer Lady Ostapeck remembers when she first became interested in photography. She was 2-years-old, lying in her crib, when her uncle was trying to get her to look at him. But her eyes were so mesmerized by a photograph on the wall, she would not look at him.

“And I’ve been looking at pictures ever since,”said Ostapeck.


Sharon Bloemendaal Photo  

From left: Bea Cohen, Memphis, Tenn; Lady Ostapeck; and Mary Carroll, Whittier, Calif., at PhotoHistory XI.

PhotoHistory XI:
Lively Look
at Photographic Past

By Sharon Bloemendaal

New York–Pennsylvania Collector, a monthly antiques newspaper, January 2001

About 250 collectors and historians from nine countries and 25 states attended PhotoHistory XI, the 11th triennial symposium in Rochester, N.Y. These are both major and beginning collectors, authors, educators, curators and heads of photographic history organizations.


Using Photo Press Photo

Bill Gates / Cooperstown Crier Photo 

Lady Ostapeck uses a vintage piece of photo-pressing equipment — something she acquired at a garage sale.

November 3, 1995

‘Lady’ wants no part
of hi-tech

CoopersTown Crier

FLY CREEK — “I make sure I don’t know anything,” Lady Ostapeck says of her approach to the technical side of photography.

It is a bit of an overstatement for the woman whose easily recognizable style has made her portraits among the best know photographic work in Otsego County over the past quarter century.


Examining Costumes Photo

Brent Hallenbeck Photo 

Lady Ostapeck looks over one of the many costumes she uses for portraits in her Fly Creek studio.

November 7, 1988

Woman gives portraits a touch of the past

By Brent Hallenbeck
Staff Writer
Oneonta Daily Star

FLY CREEK — Lady Ostapeck’s photography studio is a cramped, 8-by-8-foot room at the entrance of her “small, shabby” home, which is filled with busts, clothes and other paraphernalia normally found at garage sales or the dump.

But she thinks statues of Chopin or Beethoven with cracked necks add something to her period portraits, which attract people from all over the Northeast to live out their fantasies as a rich English fop, a blackjack player from the Old West, or a wealthy European countess.

She describes her portrait sittings as more like a séance than photography because of the dreamlike states they create.


Lady Ostapeck — A Finnish–American Pictorial Pictorialist

New Yorkin Uutiset

Lady Ostapeck was born in Brooklyn in February 1918. “In fact.” she said, “to do this kooky photography you have to be born a Pisces. It’s a sensitive sign. But you can’t be sensitive existing in this world.” Her mother died a few days after she was born and most of her life was spent in New Jersey.

Her first love was dressmaking. She had artistic abilities but also liked to sew and thought that by mastering each, she could either be an illustrator or a dress designer. She studied art in high school and evening classes, but could not make a living at it. “I wasn’t good enough,” she said. …”


The Pictorial Portraitist

By Jane S. Johngren

If after browsing through the Smith-Telfer collection of old photographs at Fenimore House you rushed home to dust off your camera, viewing the group of portraits by Lady Ostapeck now on display at the National Commercial Bank and Trust Company will inspire you to call for a sitting at the first opportunity.

Most people, I suspect, have at some time in their lives imagined, even wished, themselves to be of another time, perhaps another country or a different profession. Certainly there are parts of our personalities, which remain hidden from our friends, even our families — secret desires, dreams, fantasies. In short, there is a romantic, fanciful strain in even the most realistic and pragmatic of us, and there are few acceptable ways to express it. Lady Ostapeck’s Whimsy Hill Studio in Fly Creek offers one.


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 Finnish photographer Jussi Aalto took the image at the left, while the one above is from an online article at Kouvolan Sanomat.


— Lady Ostapeck 2008, kuva Juha Metso, left
— 2006 Kalervo Puskala, right

Finishing Touches

An article Lady Ostapeck is featured on one Finnish Web site, while her portrait is featured two others.

Finnish photographer Pirkko Porkka captured Lady O in Helsinki on June 6, 2006.

Lady O explains her costume: “I’m visiting Finland because I had a photography exhibition at Lapua. I live in Otsego County but I‘m of Finnish descent. The gentlemen‘s stetson is my umbrella. My friend Ulla-Maija gave me the poncho. The dress is self made years ago. The black elastic stockings are good for travelling. These traditional Finnish shoes were the only pair that do not hurt my feet.”

The image is posted on the Hel-Looks Web site, along with street photographs by other photographers.



Lady Ostapeck and the Whispering Camera

(A liberal translation of an article written by Hannele Niemi, originally published in Askel magazine in Finnish; translation generously furnished by Juha-Matti Levasalmi)

Lady Ostapeck’s delightfully beautiful photographs are born from the artist’s own eventful and even tragic life. At almost 90 years of age, Lady explains that she has received everything she wished for. Yet there is still one more dream to come true: a small cottage close to a bus stop. And if everything were to work out perfectly, the small cottage would be in Finland.


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