SCITUATE – It was the Pharaoh’s feet that fascinated Mary Sheehan.
“His left foot is forward, which means he’s headed for eternity,” she said, savoring the hint she’d just been shown. “And one of the pharaohs had his wife by his side. She had her arm around him and her left foot was slightly forward, showing how much he was thinking of her.”
Sheehan, 79, was a regular at a series of engaging programs called Art for Your Mind presented by the Scituate Senior Center last year.
You could call it art history for the adventurous.
The creator, Jill Sanford, is a former art history major dedicated to making great works of art and everyday visual opportunities more valuable and memorable.
The tools she teaches in her hour-long programs help people pay more attention to what they see, from museum works to poster art to public collages. She uses selected imagery to explore line, colour, form and texture with an eye for the details that tell the story behind the composition. Who knew most Egyptians shaved their heads and wore wigs?
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Sanford, a Mattapoisett resident, has built a client base with aging councils on the South Coast and Rhode Island and is now expanding across the South Coast. Last week she presented The Art of Ancient Egypt in Scituate.
In May she was at Hingham and Norwell performing Norman Rockwell Remembered. In Hull she presented Why So Famous? A Survey from Leonardo Da Vinci to Andy Warhol” and in Hanover “The Visionary Van Gogh”.
On Tuesday 14 June at 1pm, “JMW Turner, The Pride of Great Britain” will bring them to Marshfield. In the next few weeks, she will compete for Duxbury, Lakeville, Norwell and Middleboro.
“The programs are very popular, with some involving up to 75 people,” said Linda Hayes, director of the Scituate Council on Aging. Scituate began arts programs in the summer of 2019, funded by the Scituate Education Foundation for 12 months at a fee of $150/month. Hayes said the center is now leveraging its Joanne Papandrea Memorial funding: Papandrea, who died in 2020, was the center’s art teacher.
In 2010, with the goal of making art history more accessible to older adults, Sanford expanded her audience from schools to senior centers.
“I do a lot of research and boil it down to the basics, but I also do it light-heartedly,” she said.
Her company, Art for Your Mind LLC, offers 40 slide programs in several categories: First Time Favorites; All About America; Art movements, style epochs & general topics; Individual Artists; and other countries and ancient cultures.
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Sheehan enjoyed art growing up, but after high school she attended Boston City Hospital School of Nursing, graduating in 1963 and working at Boston Medical Center for 38 years. After retiring, she began taking watercolor classes at the South Shore Art Center and jumped at the chance to study in Sanford’s art history class.
“She’s so knowledgeable and speaks without notes,” Sheehan said. “She’s animated and wonderful to watch. She made me realize that when you look at things, you notice little things that you only caught a glimpse of before.”
Even in Scituate class, Eugenia Kelley finds that art in her life “gives me a boost. This program always adds much more information. It is very pleasant.”
Hingham Elder Services director Jennifer Young has offered the program several times and will add it to the senior center’s Discovery Lifelong Learning program in the fall.
“She’s engaging and energetic,” Young said. “She’s a one-man road show and comes in with her own sound and all her visuals – it takes a lot of the stress off of the center’s senior staff because they don’t have to set up a program.”
The Hanover Senior Center was the first on the South Shore that Sanford invited more than five years ago. Director Tammy Murray said the programs continue to draw large numbers of people even if the show is repeated.
“A lot of seniors from other cities used to come here to see them, so it’s great that they have their own programs now,” Murray said. “Success really has to do with the instructor. It comes with a pre-installed program and explains complicated details in a way that you can understand and relate to. … It’s not intimidating.”
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Sanford Presents “Why So Famous?” 21 June at 10am at Duxbury Senior Center; “Massachusetts’ Art Revealed” June 22 at 7 p.m. at the Lakeville Council on Aging; and “Visionary Van Gogh” on June 23 at 1:30 p.m. at the Norwell Senior Center, 293 Pine St.
The Scituate programs on the Italian Renaissance, Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams stand out for having attracted the most patrons, Hayes said, but all have drawn crowds.
The schedule is posted on their website artforyourmind.com, along with the 40 different choices, which also includes this quote from Georgia O’Keeffe:
“I found I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn’t say otherwise – things I didn’t have words for.”
When your first car is going to be an ‘antique’
Stopping by the 50th annual car show at the Heritage Museums in Sandwich on Saturday I was amused to see a model of my first car, a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle. There it was, parked on the lawn in front of the Round Barn. Its owner had driven it on Holliston’s Mass Pike and told me it was doing 80 miles an hour.
“I bet people wave and shout a lot,” I said.
“They do,” he replied.
Many people have a fondness for their first car and some others stopped giggling when they achieved “antique” or “classic” car status. I forgot that on some 1960’s Beetles you had to open the front hood to get to the gas tank. The owner demonstrates.
I remember that when it wouldn’t start, friends and I would push it down the street in Rochester, New York and the ignition would often fire. It was light enough that if you got stuck in the snow you would lift the back end and move freely. Good memories!
The 18th Annual Nantasket Beach Car Show will be held on Sunday 18th September from 8am to 12pm. State police postponed it due to traffic concerns over the summer. The event is organized and hosted by the Rotary Club of Nantasket Hull, in conjunction with the Hull Police Department, the Town of Hull, the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department, and the State Department of Conservation and Recreation. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Cops for Kids with Cancer.
Betty Beecher of Weymouth read with particular interest last week’s story of the 100th anniversary of South Shore Hospital in Weymouth and three generations of Emerson doctors who served there.
Betty is 98 and a retired nurse. She was born in the hospital on April 15, 1924. She volunteered as a “Candy Striper”, helping the nurses there in her teens and walking more than 2 miles each way from Rockland. She particularly remembers the first Dr. George Emerson, one of the founders of the hospital.
“Everyone adored the Senior Dr. Emerson,” she said. “As a kid I kept hearing his name, everyone in my family saw Dr. Emerson, and it didn’t matter if you could pay or not. If he saw financial difficulties, he would say, ‘Oh, I was in the neighborhood anyway.’”
She has a newspaper clipping from The Brockton Enterprise with a photo of the hospital’s first newborn luncheon held around the hospital’s fifth anniversary. She’s one of the toddlers in the front row.
Reach Sue Scheible at email@example.com.
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