The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








Jean Tallman. Christine King photo.

See artwork by Jean Tallman

Where: Framers Market, 1301 Elm St., Manchester, 668-6989,
When: On view through Aug. 31; gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Reception: Thursday, July 21, from 5 to 8 p.m.; includes refreshments and free posters of Tallman’s Amoskeag millyard prints

Staying young
Tallman, 97, on painting and her last NH art show

By Kelly Sennott

 Jean Tallman is 97, but she’s still making art every day — and selling it. It’s what keeps her young.

“I’m not doing as much as I did because I’m slowing down, but I still have a very active business,” Tallman said via phone from her daughter’s summer home just outside Newport, Rhode Island. “I do it to keep going. An artist needs to have people who want what you do.”
The Bedford resident paints or practices printmaking most days and can remember dates, details and the names of people from the day before or decades earlier. At the time of the call, she was packing for her move to Naples, Florida, after an almost 70-year run in the Granite State, and trying to find the time to complete some commissioned artwork for her clients. She makes her final hurrah in the local arts community with an exhibition at the Framers Market that opens Thursday, July 21.
Christine King at the Framers Market said putting the show together was a spur-of-the-moment decision the two made when Tallman called weeks before because she was downsizing and needed to get rid of some paintings and prints.
King’s relationship with Tallman spans back to when the business first opened in 1978. The curator and framer was 29 and often lonely in the shop those first couple years —except when Tallman came in.
“We just hit it off and became friends,” King said. “I remember the times she did come in very well because I was a history major, and here I was with a retail business. I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning. It was great to have somebody who came in regularly.”
Tallman became even more of a regular when King and her husband moved the business to Bedford down the street from Tallman and began holding more events.
“It was a social place. Everybody went there, and we had a wonderful time,” Tallman said.
King has a scrapbook of important Framers Market events, and she pulled it out during an interview at the shop, now located on Elm Street in Manchester, last week. Tallman’s face smiled back on many pages chronicling the business’s shows and anniversary parties. Most of the time, she was with her husband, William Tallman, former chairman and CEO of Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, who died last year. 
King knew they’d be able to pull off a last-minute celebration because of Tallman’s strong local following. She suspects Tallman’s artwork hangs in hundreds of homes, in part because of the sheer mass of work Tallman has created over her lifetime.
When she first moved to New Hampshire from Cambridge (where she painted windows and interior displays and her husband worked at MIT) in 1946, she painted portraits of area children and young couples.
“Once in a while, I’ll see somebody who says to me, you did a portrait of my grandmother!” Tallman said.
Much of Tallman’s work also tackles iconic subjects in Manchester, Bedford and Concord. She designed the Bedford bicentennial coin and the Bedford town seal, and she illustrated Bedford Historical Society maps and town history. In the Queen City, she was depicting the millyard in prints before it was cool.
“From the beginning, I loved the millyard when I came to Manchester,” Tallman said. “I thought it was a beautiful thing, to see something unusual like that in the city. And I think it’s wonderful what they’ve done.”
At the shop, King was still cleaning the 20 pieces for the art show. Most are oil paintings of florals, mountains and seascapes, but a handful are watercolor prints of places like the Palace Theatre, the old depot station in Manchester and the rolling countryside of Siena, Italy.
Mostly, King knew the show would have crowds because Tallman knows a lot of people, on her own and through her husband, who, in addition to his high-ranking job, was a co-founder of the Derryfield School and very involved with the Greater Manchester community. 
The secret to a long career like Tallman’s? Keep painting. Don’t get discouraged. 
“When you’re young, you don’t have much time, but it takes time to paint. But just do little by little as you can. Just keep at it forever, and you’ll finally find that, someday, you’ve reached a point where someone will say, ‘I have to buy that!’” she said. 

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