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On the Move

86 and still on the move

Nancy Jarvis began her career as an artist at age 41/2. She grew up in West Hartford, Conn. At age 5, her parents entered her in art classes at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. She’s been painting ever since. Now, 86 years old, she lives and paints at Horseshoe Pond Place in Concord. Wanting to share her passion for painting and believing that “anyone can do it, Jarvis gives painting classes to anyone interested at Horseshoe Pond Place.

At the University of Virginia, Jarvis majored in Russian studies and political science and minored in art. She left college after two years to marry and to have and raise three children: Erik, a Navy aviator; Rolf, an Air Force pilot; and Ann, a retired teacher who lives in Bow. Jarvis is devoted to seven “wonderful” grandchildren and three “wonderful” great grandchildren. She has two major passions, her family and her art.

Although painting is her prime mover, Jarvis has many other interests. She runs every day, on the path along Horseshoe Pond.

“We’re a running family,” she said. “We all run. I guess you could call running our family sport.”

Jarvis paints every day. The lobby and the library at Horseshoe Pond Place are enhanced by several of her paintings, the newest one being of a storm at sea.

“I love the sea,” she told me.

She paints sea scenes often. Over the library mantle, hangs her rendition of a bowl of poppies. On a lobby wall is a country scene with lupines in bloom and one of birches in the fall. Portraits are her favorite subjects.

“I can tell who you are when I look in your eyes,” she said when I had expressed my fascination with artists being able to pick up a paint brush and produce me.

At a recent variety show at Horseshoe Pond Place, Jarvis had done permanent magic marker portraits of each of the actors, displayed as they did their parts . . . amazing likenesses for a hurry-up job.

Jarvis has sold hundreds of her painting over the years.

“I don’t know where they’ve all gone,” she said. “Once they’re finished and gone, I’m on to the next one. I meant to make a book of them, but it hasn’t happened.”

A search for a possible artist in her family turned up John Wesley Jarvis, a noted American painter of the early 19th century. He painted portraits of many famous people, including Andrew Jackson. He traveled extensively throughout this country, spending months at a time in many of our cities, painting wherever he happened to be. His paintings have been collected by the New York Historical Society and by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Her many other interests keep Jarvis busy. She collects coins. She “pans” for gold. She buys a concentrate from various dealers that contains nuggets of gold which she extracts to save for a grandson. She reads, mostly historical subjects. She played tennis well into her 80s. She loves opera. There isn’t much that doesn’t interest her.

“Interests,” she said “are what keep us on the move,” especially in our later years.”

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