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Joss House by Louise Sheppa Lovett

“Coincidence is God working anonymously.”

On March 20, I published a post about an amazing painting I found at a junk store in Oklahoma City by the painter Louise Sheppa Lovett, a.k.a. L.S. Lovett.

Tonight, the painter’s granddaughter, Ellen Chong, contacted me via email. I posted information about the painting along with my email address on the subscription site, I was thrilled to hear from Ms. Chong. She wrote:

“OMG! A Joss House Painting!!! Yes, definitely is one of my grandmother’s. You have a Weaverville, CA Joss House painting. She did a series of prints of this subject, done in black and white, and then hand-colored. This looks like an original watercolor though. How big is your painting?

“Grandma did a series of paintings of the Joss House. I own her original 1924 watercolor sketch of the same building. Not as bright as yours. My grandfather gave it to me as a wedding present, grandma had already passed by then. My mother and my aunt each have an oil version of the same scene. She did notecards with a black and white sketch as well.

“The Joss House is a Taoist Temple in Weaverville California. The Joss House is still standing, and is now a museum and local tourist attraction. The Jake Jackson Museum in Weaverville owns several of Grandma’s works. It is the archivist of the Jake Jackson Museum, Rich Lorenz, that contributed the biographical material about Grandma to the AskArt site.”

Joss House, Weaverville, California

The Joss House in Weaverville is the oldest Chinese Temple in California, constructed in the 1850s.

My muse is working overtime. I have found seven noteworthy pieces of art in the last six years — four of which I have identified as being very important to people who loved the deceased artist.

For example, when I told Joy Reed Belt at the JRB Gallery in Oklahoma City that I had stumbled upon two paintings by Claude Anderson (at a garage sale), she didn’t even pause before asking me how much I wanted for them. (I’ve yet to approach her about the purchase, because truly, I hate giving up original art.) Claude was dear to Joy. And, the Paseo has been very dear to me. My father and I made precious memories together in the Paseo.

Claude’s face is the only one to appear in black and white in the popular exhibit, The Faces of Paseo, which features portraits of individuals influential in the life of the vibrant arts district in Oklahoma City. It was done this way to symbolize the fact he is deceased. There was great sorrow surrounding Claude’s death, and I think about this when I see his paintings. I think about all he could have painted had he not succumb to a cruel disease.

Then, there is the Robert Lamell painting of wife Mimi. Lamell is virtually unknown outside art circles in Oklahoma City. His work, though extraordinary, would never (not right now, anyway) appear on eBay. And, yet, one day, I searched his name and turned up a painting a woman was selling just a mile or so from my house. It is the only Lamell painting ever sold on eBay, and that was the first time I had performed such a search. I believe I was meant to have the painting of Mimi so I could return it to her children one day. That day has not yet come, but I know it will. Robert was dear to me.

And, now, the Joss House Painting. I can’t wait to learn more about Lovett and why my muse carried me to her painting.


This is Louise Sheppa Lovett. This is the woman who painted the watercolor I found tossed on a rack in a junk store in Oklahoma City. She painted it in 1932.

When I closed my eyes and I imagined the artist, this is exactly how I saw her. She wasn’t wearing lipstick. Her hair was natural, not sprayed, and poofed and coiffed.

She wasn’t wearing a suit, formed to her body with a ribbon-thin belt. She wasn’t caring a clutch, big enough for a hankie.

Like that temple, she blended with the landscape, with subtle accents of gold and bricks of medium blue.

I knew she would never be out of place in a meadow.

In my mind, she was an amalgamation of many women I’ve admired.

Rachel Carson
Tahsa Tudor
Bethel Maude
My Mother

Ellen Chong, Louise’s granddaughter, with whom I have made acquaintance, was kind enough to send me these photos of her grandmother. She is sending me a copy of Lovett’s book, too. A Happy Day.

Can I be honest with you?

I can’t wait for this day. The day I have short, wavy, silver hair. When I no longer feel the need to color away the roots of gray or worry if I need to have “work done.”

When I can wear a formless dress and not care if the world thinks I look good for my age. What would it mean if I were to look bad?

I heard this at church recently: In our culture, we despise the youth while worshipping youthfulness.

How sad.

It’s not that I don’t want to look beautiful. It’s not that Lovett was not beautiful. Just look at her. She is an extraordinary beauty. It’s that I want to spend my energy, my time on something else.

On poetry and art.
On people and adventure.
On kittens and writing.

Is this rebellion? Am I abandoning three-inch heels or did I abandon my essence when I let someone else tell me what it means to be a woman?

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. John Hayes

    What a great postscript to the story– I’m trying to place Weaverville, but I can’t right now. Kat might have a point about the real thing vs. the painting. & be safe on yr urban excursions!

  2. Poetikat

    I venture to say the painting is more lovely than the real thing.


  3. TheMuffinMan

    Any and all aunt Jen!

  4. Lin

    OMG!!! How amazing is this!? And how wonderful that you were able to connect with the grand-daughter of the artist. Now that you know the painting’s history, you will want to keep the two together. Any chance you can obtain an old photo of her to put with it? How exciting! I’m so happy for you, Jen! Its a gorgeous piece! Congratulations!!! Love, Lin

  5. Territory Mom

    You definitely have a gift. Hey, watch for Olinka Hrdy’s(spelled correctly-Czech) artwork. She is from my hometown and when I put some artwork on ebay someone asked about her because they knew I was from Oklahoma. They said they would pay big money for it. I can’t wait to see on Antiques Roadshow.

  6. jenX67

    @Farmgirl – this is so true. Wait ’til you read my next post about this!

    @Cari – good point!

    @Beck – very true. you, linda and bill all have muses, too!!!

  7. jenX67

    @yogi- yeah, no muse ever led me to a 70s macrame plant hanger. hahahaha!

    @le you are so funny. =S and, based on my respect for you and a lady named Jean, I changed my profile pic.

    @MuffinMan – will do – what kind of games? like pacman? or older? or newer?

    @Georgie – that pic of a pie-holding lady makes me smile every time I see it.

  8. Rebecca

    Nope, don’t think you’re crazy, sis! I believe God directs our path when we trust Him to do so…


  9. Cari

    You just may have a muse for finding paintings. But it also helps that you are 1)looking 2) have a good eye 3)follow up on said paintings to discover more about what you have. That’s cool. And yes, I also have a hard time minding that still, small voice. I’m getting better at it.

  10. TheMuffinMan

    Aunt Jen,

    Do me a favor… keep an eye out for any vintage (yes it exists) video game art/posters etc in good condition. I am looking for some items for my office 🙂

  11. ♥georgie♥

    Okay that is so cool about your muse of finding art! I wish i had that ability

  12. le @ thirdontheright

    ps loving the new profile and pic – I could never really do the horsey – it just was not you – le xoxo

  13. le @ thirdontheright

    hello you – please don’t go thru neighbourhoods where getting shot is an option … just go round … this is not God this is le saying KEEP OUT of the shooting places – xoxoxoxo

    ps and I am less forgiving than God and will be peeved at you forever and a day if you get shot any time soon ….:)

  14. Yogi♪♪♪

    I do think that you have a muse for original art. Of course, you have to have an eye for good stuff for the muse to be of any use.

  15. Oklahoma Farmgirl

    WOW, this is so COOL!! Yep, the Universe is definately leading you to that which you need. The painting is so lovely & peaceful.

    Have a wonderful weekend. Hugs to all!! BTW, I cannot wait to meet you-we are going to have such a blast in June w/everyone.

    Blessed be..

  16. Anonymous


    How interesting! You have an “Eye” for seeking out “Treasure” that has been “Trashed.”

    The “Joss House” painting is beautiful and to discover the origin and background of such a work of art is a treasure in itself.

    Yes– I do believe you have a MUSE
    that leads you to lost art. I eagerly await your next find.

    Hugs– Gracie


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