Judith Minna Pike December 19, 1942- October 18, 2019
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Judy Minna Pike- artist, tennis prodigy, creative force and grandmother extraordinaire- passed away peacefully and surrounded by her family on October 18th after a long battle with cancer. She was 76.
A life-long San Diegan, Judy grew up on Fort Stockton Dr. in Mission Hills and attended Rosary High School. The daughter of a family physician and nurse and the sister of two doctors, she would buck tradition as the only one in her family not to pursue medicine, instead forging an independent artistic path.
An amateur tennis champion in her youth, Judy once famously played- and defeated- Billie Jean King in a doubles tournament, though she conceded that Billie Jean had gotten a lot better since they first played.
She graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in art and remained an ardent Stanford athletic team fan.
Judy met her husband Gary at a “spinster’s dance” for military veterans and older unmarried women. Judy was 23. Gary would often describe how he spotted Judy across the dance hall looking like “a vision of loveliness in a white headband.” Gary proposed two weeks later but Judy convinced him to wait an extra week to tell her parents. They were married 52 years. Gary passed away unexpectedly earlier this year, seven months and one day before Judy. Judy recently confided that she still had the white headband.
Judy taught Spanish at Lincoln High School for a short time after college, but art would become her life-long passion. She experimented with clay and reiki pottery for several years but eventually transitioned to watercolor, oil painting, mixed media and figurative drawings for the majority of her career.
An award-winning artist and juror, Judy’s work often drew on inspiration from family photos, both from her childhood and later years. Her art has been exhibited in several solo and group shows, including four featured exhibitions at the San Diego Institute of Art. In 2003, she was featured in Watercolor Magic Magazine Yearbook “Ones to Watch.” A selection of her artwork can be found at www.judypike.com.
In an artist’s statement around one of her solo shows featuring a group of mixed-media figurative pieces, Judy discussed her creative process.
“’We are all more than one thing,’ said Judy, who encourages her models to play with different personas when they pose. ‘People are complicated and that’s what I try to capture in my work. Gestures, features, mood, clothing, choice and facial expressions make a model unique and drawing becomes a conversation between the model and the artist. As I add layers, my goal is to clarify and deepen that conversation, revealing the model as an individual, not just a type.’”
Judy co-founded the Figurative Inspiration Group (FIG) in 2006, with the aim of creating a space for a unique collaboration between models and artists. She was an active member of the West Coast Drawing Group and curated a monthly art show at Adam’s Avenue Grille for several years.
In her spare time, Judy earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and played tennis religiously. In later years, Judy continued to be an avid armchair sports fan, rooting for her tennis favorites and unfailingly supporting hometown teams like the Padres and Aztecs. Judy was also a closet word game fiend, who did not miss a day of her word scramble app.
Being a mother was an important part of Judy’s life and her six grandchildren would become a particular focus. While her health allowed, she would visit her family in San Francisco every month without fail for more than a decade. These trips were especially valiant as Judy suffered from a life-long fear of flying, which she forced herself to conquer anew with every journey.
Judy is survived by her children Amanda and John, her son in law Adam Keker and her daughter in law, Zeina Sayegh Pike, her brothers John and David Minna, and her devoted grandchildren Ella, Owen, Arabella, Walker, Alaia and D'Auria. We, and all who knew her, will miss her terribly.
A memorial will be held in Judy’s honor at a later date.