The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

November 19, 2012

Wide range of interests lead Fox many places

Monday, November 19, 2012 — Where do you begin when trying to describe who Nancy Jo Fox is?

You could start with her multiple degrees in design, including ones from Duke and New York universities. That led to a long career as a teacher at the New York School of Interior Design.

You also might be able to start with her extensive work with the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City, which involved extensive sessions of interior design of many varieties.

Or how about one of her proudest accomplishments: the book “Liberties with Liberty,” which chronicles the fascinating history of the Statue of Liberty through folk art. Published and released on July 1, 1986, the book became a national success and led to a traveling exhibit of items collected for the book from all over the country. A copy is also on display at the Statue of Liberty.

It also led to a poster series that was exhibited in the Empire State Building and was distributed to every governor along with 166 American Embassies worldwide at the time. That series still frequents museums, with the latest exhibit happening about a year ago at The Bay School Community Arts Center in Mathews, Va.

But her greatest treasures can be found when you take a stroll through her house and admire her unique collection of antique toys. And while you might not expect that from a lady of such sophistication, talent and accomplishment, it’s something she treasures almost as much as her many achievements.

“Collecting is a multi-faceted joy,” Fox said.

“The hunt for that special something, whether a toy or a doll, takes you to various places where you meet interesting people who share their knowledge. It is constant learning about the creations of humankind, a side door to history.”

Fox developed a love for the toys as a child. She grew up in Raleigh and went with her parents when they would go hunting for antiques and other unique items. She moved with her parents to Albemarle around 1948 after graduating from Ravenscroft Episcopal School, now called Ravenscroft School in Raleigh.

After getting her degree at Duke, she moved to New York where her career took off. It’s also where her passion for antique toys blossomed.

“Toys reflect everything, our culture, our religion, the inventions, politics,” Fox said.

“Just look at the satire cartoons … that’s artwork, too. Toys that are made affect the time they are in. I think they are charming. You learn a lot by playing with toys.”

Fox would stay busy during the week with her jobs, school and later with her development of the book. But she always found time to go hunting for the unique toys that adorn her house today, making trips to Connecticut, upstate New York, Pennsylvania and as far as Maine while she lived in New York. Her work even took her to places such as London, Paris, Amsterdam and Italy, where she also found items that captivated her attention.

“Going to work was a joy,” Fox said.

“I couldn’t wait to go to work. I taught five classes of advanced color, I lectured about American folk art and I ran a 24-credit program.

“I think (today’s children) miss a lot by learning about the past. It’s very exciting. They had iron trains, little boys got to play with iron trains. A hundred years before that, there was not such a thing.

“But I don’t want anything that’s not unique. That’s my weakness or strength. That’s what appeals to me about these cloth dolls. Loving hands but they are a one-of-a-kind.

“They say the only path between life and death is love, and they are made with love for their families or whatever.”

Fox said she “was gaga” about the book being published and the traveling exhibit that followed. She was the focus on many television and newspaper interviews including appearances on German and Japanese television. But she had never even been to the Statue of Liberty until her mother visited and encouraged her to come along.

“I was looking around and I saw a man crying,” Fox said.

“I had never seen that in my life. People who had made it to this country and finally they got to be close to (the Statue of Liberty).

“I knew then this hunk of metal was more than something to look at. They crossed over, they fled, some of them were lucky to get here before World War I and II. I never dreamed I’d write a book about that. It’s a dazzling story.”

Fox later moved back to Albemarle to care for her ailing mother until she died. But her love for antique toys and interior design never wavered. She also helped Roger Martin with the interior design of his gallery that’s currently in downtown Albemarle. In addition, she recently became a member of the board of directors at the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum, which opened in July across from the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Her collection of Pinocchio dolls and marionettes was one of the first displays at the museum.

“Nancy Jo Fox is definitely a visionary,” said Beth Nance, co-owner of the museum.

“Regarding the museum, she has definitely been invaluable with design and her ideas and support. She’s been a real supporter of the museum as far as loaning wonderful things of her collection, things that other people might not see otherwise.

“Honest to goodness, she is such a neat person and has an eye for design. You can recognize she’s a visionary. She just has had an amazing career, and we are blessed to have her on our board of directors. Her input is just invaluable.”

“I have had the pleasure of Nancy Jo Fox for approximately 17 years,” Martin said.

“She is a good friend but also one of my favorite teachers. I consider my time spent with Miss Fox my graduate studies in color, design and art history.

“I was very fortunate to have Jo’s guidance on my gallery in downtown Albemarle. Her talents turned the interior space into one that could hold its own in New York.

“Jo is the consummate collector, she  knows antiques. Jo saves lost objects and keeps them safe for the next generation of collectors.”

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Janice Abernathy Stanly residents share memories of Mickey Rooney

    Mickey Rooney is remembered for his numerous film roles, including his immense popularity as a child actor and the Andy Hardy series.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Democrats rally platform at county convention

    There were as many no-shows as candidates vying for office at Saturday’s Democratic convention and breakfast at Stanly Regional Medical Center’s Magnolia Room.

    April 10, 2014

  • Candidates: Stanly must change EDC strategies

    Changes with how Stanly County pursues economic development and ethical standards in the Sheriff’s Office were a frequent theme at Thursday night’s Republican forum.

    April 10, 2014

  • Town increases sewer tap fee by $800, ups other fees

    The town of New London no longer has to worry about lagging behind the other areas of Stanly County when it comes to sewer fees and the costs to reconnect water and sewer. And the best part is, neither will its current residents and businesses.

    April 4, 2014

  • EDC plots main focus

    At a strategic development meeting Monday night, the Stanly County Economic Development Commission board told staff they would like to see a focus on bringing high-wage jobs into the county over the next few years.

    April 4, 2014

  • SRMC Picture Carolinas HealthCare unveils plans, changes for Stanly Regional

    Carolinas HealthCare System announced that expansions and changes will accompany Stanly Health Services’ integration into its system.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Angie Gallimore Bonanza packs Mkt. Station

    The rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits at Saturday’s Outdoorsman’s Bonanza.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • New Patrol Car Grant helps APD boost ranks, fleet

    The Albemarle Police Department has a new traffic officer and unmarked SUV patrolling the streets.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Coffey Anderson Speaker offers youth advice

    Coffee and a Pop Tart is one way to wake up.
    Coffey Anderson and some pop music is another.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mitchel T. Morton Service tributes Vietnam veteran

    A collage of faded photographs, two letters — one returned unopened and another stamped, but not mailed, and a yellowed newspaper clipping of an obituary kept in a plastic bag are among mementos that remain behind.

    March 26, 2014 2 Photos

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide