Betsy Andersen

Obituary of Betsy Miller Andersen


March 15, 1956 – May 8, 2023

51 Year Resident of Santa Cruz


Family and friends are mourning the loss of beloved Betsy Andersen, wife, mother, and friend of the Santa Cruz art community. She died at home following a six-month battle with cancer, surrounded by her husband John, her daughter Kyra, and her sister Wendy. 

Born in 1956 in Los Angeles to Dr and Mrs. Walter Miller who, following family tradition, gave their daughters wide exposure to the rich LA culinary and art culture. After high school Betsy moved to Santa Cruz, graduating in 1978 from UCSC with a Master of Fine Arts Degree. 

After graduation and her marriage to master cabinet maker, John Andersen, her culinary interests led her to employment at two Santa Cruz classics, as a scooper at Polar Bear Ice Cream and at India Joze Restaurant where she started in prep and ended up a chef. She was very proud of her Russian heritage and as a chef at Joze, she hosted themed banquets featuring Russian cuisine. Betsy was years ahead of the now trending prepared meals business, and owned ‘Best Bets,’ a food service where she prepared an entire week of meals for people who were not able to cook for themselves.

To say that Betsy was active in the arts community is an understatement. She was not only a painter herself represented in Open Studios, but also, early in her promotional career, she hosted radio shows on KUSP interviewing artists, one of whom was her UCSC professor and mentor, Eduardo Carrillo. In 2003 she was chosen to be Director of Museo Eduardo Carrillo, an on-line museum, founded by his widow, Alison. Together they shaped Museo Eduardo Carrillo, the only Artist Endowed Foundation in the United States devoted to the work of a Mexican American Artist, into the innovative and multi-faceted organization it has become.  

Betsy was instrumental in continuing Eduardo’s legacy via “Califas: Chicano Art and Culture in California” by creating and hosting on Museo, and throughout the community, a revival of the Califas Legacy Project which grew out of the recognition that our region represents an opportunity to fill in a missing piece of American art history. The story of Chicano/a art on the Central Coast is decades long, rich and varied. The Califas Legacy Project has unified the Monterey Bay Crescent through public retrospective and multi-generational exhibitions, zoomed in opportunities, street side art viewing, portable murals, documentary videos, panel discussions, and a Latinx-based symposium. 

Picking up on Eduardo’s teaching of art to children of migrant workers, Betsy partnered Museo with Julia Chiapella and the Young Writer’s Program, which has created a curriculum that exposes contemporary Chicano art to middle school students as a launching pad to generate ideas and personal narratives of their own, thus instilling a deep personal connection with the art of Latino culture. This program has yet to fulfill one of Betsy’s greatest dreams of broad acceptance into the public schools of California.

Betsy is mourned by John, Kyra and her sister, Wendy Miller, as well as by countless friends and admirers.

A celebration of her life will be announced.