PATC Inherits Garnet Jex’s
Painting Along Jeremys Run
by Brewster Thackeray, Staff
Artist Garnet W. Jex with his newly-painted
Along Jeremys Run
in August, 1936.
In August PATC inherited a painting, Along Jeremys Run
by Garnet W. Jex, from the estate of Nancy Louise Perry. Jex (1895-1979) was an artist, historian, and director of graphics for a government health agency. He also was a prolific painter of landscapes and Civil War scenes, working in oils and watercolors, according to his 1979 obituary in the Washington Post
. He grew up in Washington, D.C., served in World War I, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts from George Washington University, and served as President of the Arts Club of Washington. An exhibit of 17 of his paintings
is currently at the John Brown Museum at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
Along Jeremys Run came to us accompanied by two photographs and a 2011 note, apparently penned by Ms. Perry, that provides important background information on the painting:
Kenneth W. Perry and Florence Wilcox met in the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) in the early 1930s and were married in July 1936. “Along Jeremy’s Run,” by local Washington, DC, artist Garnet Jex, was either given to them subsequently as a wedding present by their friends in the PATC, or else they purchased it themselves. It might even have been done on commission. A 5 x 8-inch black and white photo belonging to the Perry family shows Garnet Jex seated in a field contemplating the finished oil painting. Kenneth Perry’s handwriting on the back of the photo says, “Painted Aug. 15-16, 1936 by Garnet Jex.”
The artist’s signature, “JEX,” appears in the lower right-hand corner of the painting. When the Perrys separated in the 1960s, Florence W. Perry kept the painting in her various Maryland residences until she moved to an assisted living apartment in May 2007, at which point she gave it to her only child, her daughter Ms. Nancy L. Perry. The painting is in its original condition as far as Ms. Perry is aware, never having been cleaned or restored in any way.
PATC Archivist Tom Johnson, upon hearing about the painting, brought to my attention that the Jex name is key in PATC history. Walter Jex was PATC’s first Trail Overseer, appointed by Myron Avery in 1928 to keep the new trail clear between Harpers Ferry and Ashby Gap. We pondered if there might be a relation; research in the 1920 and 1930 Federal Censuses confirmed that Garnet Jex and Walter Jex were brothers.
Johnson notes, “The relationship between Garnet and Walter Jex, the first PATC overseer, makes the painting all that more relevant to us. Both PATC and the Red Triangle Club, which was at the time the largest hiking club in Washington, often hiked the Jeremys Run Trail. It was one of the earliest trails in what would become Shenandoah National Park.” The 14.7-mile Jeremys Run loop endures as one of the longest in SNP.
The colorful, gold-framed oil painting will reside in a distinctive place at PATC. For now it is temporarily hung on the wall in the second floor waiting area.