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In the zone: 91-year-old artist gets first exhibition

  • Summerhill resident Mary Graves has an upcoming art exhibit. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Summerhill resident Mary Graves has an upcoming art exhibit. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Summerhill resident Mary Graves has an upcoming art exhibit. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Summerhill resident Mary Graves has an upcoming art exhibit. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Summerhill resident Mary Graves has an upcoming art exhibit. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, October 05, 2017

Mary Graves might have never even discovered her hidden talent if it hadn’t been for a class held at Summerhill just around a year ago. Originally she was not even planning on attending the “zen doodle” class, however after some encouraging she decided to give it a try.

Graves, 91, put pen to paper, and went into an almost dream-like state. When she finished she had the first of what would become a collection of intricate, hypnotizing drawings.

“It seems as though all thought goes out of my head,” Graves said. “I’m totally focused.”

Now, those drawings are going on display at the Jaffrey Civic Center from Oct. 11 to Nov. 11. It’s the first art exhibition for Graves, who hasn’t had any formal training.

“I was just so surprised how skilled she was at it,” said Regina Vorce, the civic center’s executive director who curates art there.

Born in Concord, Graves has had a life filled with practicing various forms of art. In her younger years, she (was a professional architect), designing housing plans for several homes in the local area, including ones on Blueberry Lane and Windmill Hill in Peterborough.

“She always designed all of the houses that we ever lived in.” said her daughter, Annie Graves.

Graves also painted holiday greeting cards and sold them locally at the Toadstool and Paper & Roses in Peterborough for quite a number of years.

But Graves’ doodles are different. Vorce noticed the difference when Graves brought them in for her to see.

“It was very beautiful, it was black-and-white -- kind of these abstracts, like mandalas,” Vorce said.

It’s a talent that Graves didn’t even know she had.  The amount of detail and accuracy found in Graves’ work is astounding, especially since they are drawn by someone so far into their years.

“It does something to you when you’re 91 and you think there's nothing left inside you, and all of a sudden it's like a little rose grew inside of me,” Graves said.

Annie praised the attitude of the facility toward her mother’s work,

“They’ve been very encouraging and wonderful here,” she said.

Since taking that class, Graves has managed to draw an impressive 99 designs.

All her hard work has not gone without notice. Graves is also selling her drawings at the opening reception for Graves’ exhibition is being held Oct. 13, from 5-7 p,m. The pieces will be up for sale as well.

“It’s interesting,” said Graves of the show. “It makes me feel my life isn’t over yet.”