My friend Joan lives over near Newton Corner.  She always loved walking past a house nearby that had a whole collection of terra cotta figures in the front yard.  This week she met the homeowner, Newton artist Mary Beth Maisel, and learned that she was selling her big house and moving to a small apartment in Needham and didn’t know what she was going to do with all the statues.

On the spot, Joan came up with a wonderfully crazy idea.  She asked Mary Beth if she would sell her the whole collection of 20 statues, and Mary Beth was delighted.

Says Joan “Ive never really done anything like this before but something about Mary Beth’s whimsical characters inspired me.  She has a story and a name for each one of them.”   Joan has been out the last few days planting these sculptures at all sorts of public places around Newton.   “I’m tickled by the idea of people just coming across these when they’re out for a walk or going about their business”.

Joan says that these are just her first batch and she hopes to put out more this

week.  Also Joan says that if anyone wants to purchase one before they’ve all been put out in public, they should contact her as soon as possible.  She’ll sell them to you for $75 each with the proceeds to go to Pathway to Possible (housing for neighbors with cognitive disabilities).

After hearing about this I took a look at Mary Beth Maisel’s web site.  By a wonderful coincidence, I came across this painting of a building that’s a few doors away from my house.   The painting is called Moon and Sixpence which was the name of the shop that once was in that building.  These days the building is now apartments. 

By any even better coincidence, the folks who live in that apartment have young kids.  The whole neighborhood has been charmed for some time now because the entire outside of their building, which is depicted in Mary Beth’s painting has been covered with kids painting for weeks.

I love everything about this story and I love all the threads of art weaving it all together.

I look forward to stumbling on one of Mary Beth’s little people in my travels in coming weeks.

Thanks to Joan for becoming a benefactor for public art in Newton.



Addendum:  Joan reports that she put out another batch of “little people” today.  At the moment, if you look carefully you can find at least one of them in every village except Lower Falls, and Oak Hill.   She’s hoping to get to those villages soon.

Joan say’s that today’s batch includes one that’s quite a bit different – a non terra-cotta, white head.

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