Monday, September 24, 2007

It was never all sweetness and light for Lucy Jarvis

University types are always struggling for reputation and physical space so Lucy had to be protective of her Art Centre and that seems to have been a wearisome business for her. I saw her again at summer school in 1953 but the next year she took a sabbatical to study in France. She took her nephew Mark Connell with her and they were there at the time of the student uprisings in Paris. She kept a connection with the Art Centre but a Canada Council Grant allowed her to escape to Europe and avoid the day-to-day annoyances of university faculty life. When she returned to Canada she severed the university connection and began painting full time from a little cottage at Pembroke Dyke near Yarmouth. Someone at U.N.B. had the good sense to bring her back to Fredericton for a retrospective on the 45th year anniversary for the Art Centre in 1985. She never interested in self promotion so her reputation remained largely local.

She was co-owner of a fishing boat skippered by Vernon Thompson of Yarmouth and shared her life and home with Helen Wells who was also a painter of some note. Wells died in 1983 and Lucy crossed over in 1985 in her 89th year. She is buried at Saint John, New Brunswick.

Her cottage can be seen on the web at and is now owned by my long-time friend, Mark Connell. He and his brother both own good collections of her work as does Mark's sister Dr. Lucy Jarvis (Connell) Dyer of Fredericton. Lucy's sketch books and letters are archived at U.N.B. but her Art Centre has not fared as well. Funding for it was cut by the university in 2003 althouigh I belkieve it struggles on.

1 comment:

Yvon A. Moreault said...

I met «Miss Lucy» at the old art centre up on the hill in the fall of 1958. She was a dear hostess and could feel the despair of students uprooted from different backgrounds.
It was during this three to four years stay that the Bobaks and Roberts were invited as resident artists.
Years later, while traveling in N.S., I tried to find her along the south shores with no success.
Arrived in Halifax, we decided to stay in a B.& B for the first time.
As we walked in, the owner was having a telephone conversation.
I peeked in the living room and to my great surprise recognized a Miss Jarvis's painting hung on the wall. Then another one and another my disbelief, dozens!
Finally the owner told me he was collecting women paintings, especially Miss Jarvis' whom he had never met personally, doing business over the phone. And, sadly, he informed she had passed away recently.
I had two of her fusain portraits, one of a Mrs Brown and the other one of myself which unfortunately both disappeared when we moved from Fredericton to Bathurst in 1967.

She was very dear to me

: ...une brise de printemps!