The Art History “Road Show” Makes The Masters Fun, Meaningful, and Inspirational


SCITUATE – It was the feet of the pharaoh that captivated Mary Sheehan.

“His left foot is forward, which is to say he is heading for eternity,” she said, relishing the clue that had just been pointed out to her. “And one of the pharaohs had his wife beside him. She had her arm around him and her left foot was placed slightly forward, indicating how much he was thinking of her.”

Sheehan, 79, has been a regular participant in a series of engaging programs called “Art for Your Mind” that the Scituate Senior Center has presented over the past year.

You could call it art history for adventurers.

The creator, Jill Sanford, is a former art history major with an energetic mission to make great works of art and everyday visual opportunities more loved and memorable.

The tools she teaches in her hour-long programs help people pay more attention to what they see, from museum works to posters and public collages. She uses selected images to explore line, color, shape and texture, with an eye for detail that tells the story behind the composition. Who knew that most Egyptians shaved their heads and wore wigs?

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A resident of Mattapoisett, Sanford has built a clientele in aging counseling along the South Coast and Rhode Island and is now expanding to the South Shore. Last week, she featured “The Art of Ancient Egypt” in Scituate.

In May, she was at Hingham and Norwell to do “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, June 14, at 1 p.m., she brings “JMW Turner, The Pride of Great Britain” to Marshfield. In the coming weeks, she is lined up for Duxbury, Lakeville, Norwell and Middleboro.

Jill Sanford teaches Art History at Hull Senior Center on Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

“The programs are very popular; we’ve had up to 75 people for some,” said Linda Hayes, director of the Scituate Council on Aging.

In an effort to make art history more accessible to older adults, in 2010 Sanford expanded its audience from schools to senior centers.

“I do a lot of research and boil down to the basics, but I also do it in a light-hearted way,” she said.

His company, Art for Your Mind LLC, offers 40 slide programs in several categories: First Time Favorites; All About America; Artistic styles, stylistic periods and general subjects; individual artists; and other ancient countries and cultures.

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Sheehan loved art growing up, but after high school she went to 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 take Sanford’s art history class.

“She’s so knowledgeable and speaks without any notes,” Sheehan said. “She’s lively and it’s wonderful to watch her. She made me realize that when you look at something, you can notice little things that you only looked at before.”

Also in the Scituate class, Eugenia Kelley finds that the art in her life “gives me a boost. This program always adds a lot more information. It’s very nice.”

Jennifer Young, director of Hingham Elder Services, has offered the program several times and will incorporate it into 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, all of her visuals – it’s a huge relief for the senior center staff not having to put together a program.”

The Hanover Senior Center was the first on the South Shore to invite Sanford over five years ago. Director Tammy Murray said the programs continue to draw crowds, even when the show is on repeat.

“A lot of seniors from other cities came here to see her, so it’s great now that they have their own programs,” Murray said. “Success really depends on the instructor. She comes with a pre-loaded curriculum and explains intricate details in terms they can understand and relate to. … It’s not intimidating.”

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Sanford will present “Why So Famous?” June 21 at 10 a.m. at the 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 schedule is published on its website,artforyourmind.comin the same way the 40 different choiceswhich also includes this quote from Georgia O’Keeffe:

“I discovered that I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn’t say otherwise – things that I had no words for.”

When your first car becomes an ‘antique’

Passing 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, included. There it was, parked on the lawn outside the Round Barn. His owner had driven him up the Mass Pike from Holliston and told me he was going 80 mph.

“I bet people wave and call a lot,” I said.

“They do,” he replied.

Many people have an affection for their first car and several others have stopped to laugh at having achieved “antique” or “classic” automobile status. I had forgotten that in some Beetle of the 1960s, you had to open the front hood to access the gas tank. The owner protested.

I remember when it wouldn’t start, some friends and I would push it down the street in Rochester, New York, and then the ignition would often turn on. It was light enough that if you got stuck in the snow, you lifted the rear end and freed it. Good memories!

The 18th Annual Nantasket Beach Car Show will take place on Sunday, September 18 from 8 a.m. to noon. The state police postponed it due to traffic problems in the summer. The event is organized and hosted by the Rotary Club of Nantasket Hull, along with the Hull Police Department, City of Hull, Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department and the State Department of Conservation and Recreation. A portion of the proceeds will go to Cops for Kids with Cancer.

Betty Beecher, from Weymouth, read, with particular interest, last week’s story about the 100th anniversary of South Shore Hospital in Weymouth and three generations of Emerson physicians who served there.

Betty Beecher as a nurse cadet in the 1940s. Family photo

Betty is 98 years old and a retired nurse. She was born in the hospital on April 15, 1924. She volunteered as a “candy stripper”, helping the nurses there during her teenage years, walking more than 2 miles each way from Rockland. She especially remembers the first Dr. George Emerson, one of the founders of the hospital.

“Everyone loved Dr. Emerson senior,” she said. “As a child, I heard his name all the time, 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 first breakfast for newborns at the hospital, held around the hospital’s fifth anniversary. She is one of the toddlers in the front row.

Contact Sue Scheible at

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