Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Great Women of NS Portraits Storm The Halifax Club
July 2, 2011

This blog tracks the origin & evolution of Jo Napier’s 2011 Art Exhibit honoring “The Nova Scotia Nine- Great Women of N.S.

The Halifax Club

The Great Women of NS Art Exhibit has moved to that elegant business bastion, The Halifax Club.

Thanks to Jodi Bartlett, the Club’s wonderful General Manager, for the warm welcome.

Crowds were steady and reactions to the portraits were very, very strong at The Public Archives, where the show had its 2-month Summer “”run””. Jodi says the response to the portrait collection, at “”The Club”, is equally strong.


We’re Open!
June 16, 2011

This blog tracks the origin & evolution of Jo Napier’s June 2011 art exhibit/portrait series honoring “The Nova Scotia Nine- Great Women of N.S.

What an evening! The opening night of my Great Women of Nova Scotia art exhibit (which runs til June 25th at the Public Archives) was amazing: to say I was awed by the size of the turnout and the warmth of the crowd would be an understatement.

My event organizer, Colette Robicheau and I decided to rent 200 wine glasses for the evening -feeling optimistic about the turnout. I brought another 50. And… we ran out of glasses.

The room was so crowded some folks said they missed each other in the mix of the crowd: people came, stayed, bought 1/3 of the paintings I had for sale – and, most importantly, they really embraced The Nova Scotia Nine.

Moms brought their daughters, wives brought their husbands, and members of Rita Joe’s, Mabel Bell’s and Granny Ross’ families all made the trek. An amazing evening, truly.

Julia Ying Napier Chiasson and her Mom Jo Napier, with Organize Anything's Colette Robicheau Photo Credit: Jan Napier

Searching for Relatives of the Nova Scotia Nine
June 1, 2011

I will be  honouring nine incredible women who changed the course of Nova Scotian history this month. I am currently trying to track down the surviving relatives of these women to invite them to the opening reception on Friday June 10, 2011 at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia inHalifax.

The centerpiece of the 20-painting show, which runs June 10-25 at the Archives, will be The Nova Scotia Nine – a series of contemporary, interpretive portraits of Rita Joe, Mabel Bell, Aileen Meagher, Viola Desmond, Anna Leonowens, Muriel Duckworth, Edith Jessie Archibald, Margaret Marshall Saunders and Marie-Henriette LeJeune-Ross.

So far I’ve been able to contact the descendants of Mabel Hubbard Bell, Anna Leonowens, Viola Desmond, Rita Joe, Muriel Duckworth and “only three” members of Aileen Meagher’s family.

I am hoping to contact the relatives of Margaret Marshall Saunders, Edith Jessie Archibald, Marie-Henriette LeJeune Ross, and more of the Meagher family.

Saunders hails from Milton and Berwick in Queen’s County. Her parents were Maria Kisborough Freeman and Edward Manning Saunders, an accomplished, educated Baptist pastor, historian and author.

Archibald (nee Jessie) is originally fromNewfoundlandand lived in Port Morien before moving toHalifax, where she died in 1936. She was married to Charles Archibald, the president of the Bank of Nova Scotia.

LeJeune-Ross lived in the North East Margaree, where her homestead still stands. She died in 1860, leaving behind 11 surviving children.

If you have information or want to find out more about The Nova Scotia Nine, please contact Jo Napier at (902) 429-7389 or or visit

A Peek Behind the Canvas
March 30, 2011

This blog tracks the origin & evolution of Jo Napier’s June 2011 art exhibit/portrait series honoring “The Nova Scotia Nine- Great Women of N.S.

It turns out there are a million details to think about to organize an art show. So I, wisely, I am sure, have decided to enlist the help of a friend: Colette Robicheau.

She is a long-time friend, and she now runs a company called Organize Anything. Lest you think this is a shameless plug for Colette, well … I guess it is. But she’s amazing, so I feel she fits in with this blog about incredible Nova Scotian women.

I met her years back, when I was a Toronto-based technology columnist for the Ottawa Citizen and a health columnist for The Globe and Mail and had just written a book for HarperCollins – a series of interviews with women who were using technology in interesting ways.

Anyway she and one of her team, Laura – my patient and talented Blog-manager, who is a journalism grad from Carleton University and a NSCC PR alumn – are helping me organize my Public Archives June 2011 show opener.

Go Team!

My Path to Painting
February 18, 2011

This blog tracks the origin & evolution of Jo Napier’s 2011 art exhibit/portrait series honoring “The Nova Scotia Nine- Great Women of N.S.

So, where do I start? In telling you about these women, I mean. Maybe the best place to start is to first tell you a bit about myself, and what led me to them.

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I’ve been a journalist for many years. Started off with The Halifax Herald, ended up working as a columnist for The Globe and Mail and The Ottawa Citizen. And, in the latter position, covered the technology beat during the heyday.

All the stories were about men and technology. Where were the women?’– I started wondering; surely there must be some women shaping technology? That led to a book I co-authored:  Technology With Curves: Women Reshaping the Digital Landscape (HarperCollins). And that book – the stress of writing a book with two other people, no matter how wonderful they may be – led to …. Painting!

During the editing process, I traveled back home to Halifax from Toronto and my mother suggested I decompress and tag along on a painting course she was taking with the immensely talented Nova Scotian artist Jeannie Edmonds Hancock (

It was one of my life’s greatest blessings and opportunities. Jeannie had studied with Arthur Lismer, one of the Group of Seven, and – boy – she can paint. More importantly, she can do what so many painters cannot do: teach.

I feel under her spell. Under the spell of painting. I fell in love with color. And I never looked back. I am still drunk on the emotion of painting. It is a feeling I have never had before.

Pure creative joy.

It Starts With a Blank Canvas
February 16, 2011

This blog tracks the origin & evolution of Jo Napier’s June 2011 art exhibit/portrait series honoring “The Nova Scotia Nine- Great Women of N.S.

Where do I start with a blog? I mean, really: I just want to paint.

To paint women, specifically. I don’t yet know why. Perhaps it’s a matter of beauty. Or of capturing familiar elements of form and character. Maybe it’s just a matter of having grown up with a houseful of brothers; an unaddressed curiousity around sisterhood.

Whatever the reason, I love to paint women.

“An artist,” said Robert Henri (American painter, 1865-9929), “should be intoxicated with the idea of the thing he wants to express.” I am: I want to express the spirit and character of women whose faces and lives capture my imagination. Which is why I’m working so hard on a show, this June, of portrait paintings.

The show will be held at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. Stay tuned for details!