Ney has not let age slow her down. The Woodmere docent has had exhibits of her work at a New Hope art gallery, Rydal Park Retirement Community in Jenkintown, Cheltenham Art Center, Center on the Hill and a group show at Beaumont on the Main Line, among many others.

by Len Lear

Anyone who thinks that senior citizens are lacking in energy and need to slow down has not met Joselyn Kinstler Ney, an 80-ish resident of Lafayette Hill for 53 years who won a second place prize on June 20 at the Whitemarsh Art Center’s 7th annual Plein Air Art Competition, Quarantine Edition, with her painting, “And Through the Gate.” There were 28 entries in the competition. (The first prize winner was Cynthia Rosen.)

“This was my first time entering,” said Ney, a docent at Woodmere who has had exhibits of her work at a New Hope art gallery, Rydal Park Retirement Community in Jenkintown, Cheltenham Art Center, Artist Equity juried show in Wallingford (Ney’s entrant was one of only two out of 75 paintings that were NOT abstract), Center on the Hill and a group show at Beaumont on the Main Line, among others.

“I spent the day before we were to paint for the Plein Air competition walking outside my house. I had to choose a site that I could also paint from inside, since rain was forecast for the next day, the contest day. I chose the end of our back pool area where it meets the side of the house. I had bought a group of canvasses that were all various odd shapes. One was long and narrow, just perfect for the scene I wanted to paint … The people at Whitemarsh Art Center are wonderful folk doing wonderful things.”

Ney and her husband, Andy, a semi-retired intellectual property attorney for a local firm, have been married for 62 years. Ney came to Philly from Wilton, Connecticut, more than a half-century ago “because as a wife of the times, I went where my husband decided to go, and he was lured down here by SPS Technologies in Jenkintown. When I came here, I was shocked by how much more house our money could buy than in Wilton. It was so mind-boggling that we decided to build.”

Joselyn’s father, Herbert, designed and made jewelry in New York City in the early 1940s. Joselyn remembers taking his customers’ checks from the bureau in the dining room and drawing — usually big Cinderella-like dresses — on the backs of them. One day her father discovered her artwork when he went to the bank to deposit the checks. “And boy, did I get it,” Joselyn recalled with a laugh.

Joselyn’s father died when she was only nine years old. “My mother Molly was destitute and didn’t know what to do, so she went out and got a job in a dress shop. She stressed that I had to learn how to earn a living.” So recognizing Joselyn’s artistic talent, her mother sent her to the High School of Music and Art and then to the Fashion Institute of Technology.

In 1976, Joselyn started her own business, Designing Woman, a commercial interior design firm, which became one of the largest model home designers on the east coast, but she sold the business in the early 2000s and then started painting in earnest. “I sold Designing Woman because I was burned out at the time,” Joselyn said in an earlier interview. “I had lost 15 years of my life working day and night and worrying about staff, projects and shipping schedules.

“I couldn’t spend the time I wanted to spend with my granddaughters. I couldn’t accompany my husband on some trips abroad. I wasn’t really active in any child’s schooling, and friends were usually put last. So I sold my company, but after a time I was aching for a good messy problem to solve and an active and adrenaline-filled day.”

When asked what she would do if she won the lottery, Ney replied enthusiastically, “I know exactly what I would do. I would buy a four-acre lot in Chestnut Hill a block or so from Germantown Avenue. I would build extra-fast a one-story large home with three bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths. It would have woods all around and a swimming pool in the only grassy area near the kitchen with a flower garden, deer-proof, by the kitchen door … I would take lunches at Cin Cin or Paris Bistro outside and simply enjoy. I am a city girl. I love store windows and cement!”

Ney and her husband have a son in Connecticut and two daughters in this area, one of whom has Down Syndrome and is living in Phoenixville. “She is the family ‘star,'” said Joselyn.“She may have Down Syndrome, but she has more common sense, personality and talent than many ‘normal’ people.”

For more information, email Carole Verona contributed to this article. Len Lear can be reached at      

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