- Brief bio from the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, 222 State Street, Springfield, Mass. (c. 1959)
BORN: Dublin, N.H. EDUCATION: Oak Grove School, Antioch College, and the Rhode Island School of Design. ONE-MAN EXHIBITIONS: Jones Library, Amherst; Little Gattler; Graphic Arts; the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum; Dublin Library; Valley Players, Holyoke. Four-man exhibition at American International College. HONORS: Springfield Art League, First Prize 1952; Third Prize 1953; Artists Guild Honorable Mention 1957; Third Prize 1958. Drawing selected for Springfield Art League Calendar, 1959. POSITION: Curator of Children’s Work, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum.
From the Mason genealogy: “Attended Cushing Academy. Graduated Oak Grove Seminary at Vassalboro, Maine, 1931 [a Friends school]. Now (1933) a student at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio.”
Mouse and Spouse, by Janet Appleton Merrifield, c. 1963
I know a couple of mice who live on the top floor of an old Georgian house. It is really the attic but they think of it as their apartment. He is a literary sort, a mouse who loves books and reading and writing, and she spends hours watching the people of the city. She makes many paintings of the people she sees.
Just the other day she was telling Mouse all about her latest painting, "You know," she squeaked, "that place where I always go for our special cheese? Well! There are invariably about a half a dozen people standing around getting all those funny foods that people eat. There are all kinds of people; different colors, big, small, tall, thin, with such funny faces and strange fur on the top of their heads. Of course, they just look at me with the weirdest expressions and make the queerest noises."
Mouse went over and scrutinized the new painting carefully. He loved to watch Spousie's paintings come alive and grow from the first tiny scrabbly sketch to the large drawings on canvas, and finally see the glowing oil colors become a finished painting. Sometimes he was very surprised to find out what Spousie had been noticing and remembering, while on the very same walk he had observed something else to remember and write about.
Now he stood before the new painting and said in his deep, low mellow tones, "You have certainly captured a mystical quality; there is a wild eerie look in their eyes, especially that one withdrawn character in back of the other people. Yes, they even have an amazing mouse-like look to them although they are only people."
Spouse tipped her head back and lowered her eyelids to squint lovingly at her work.
"You know," she said, "I think I'll call it 'Six People Stare in Greeting.'"
Now you and I might think Mr. Mouse rather conventional. You might see him every day leaving for his place of business, sauntering along in his sleek grey, as conservative and quietly dressed as the next, but alone with Spousie he was wont to affect a more daring dress; Bermuda shorts with exotic vests, or even striped trousers. He encouraged Spousie in her love for olive green tights, topped by gaily printed shirts, worn with the shirttails out. Mouse gazed fondly at her now as she finished varnishing the people painting, noting the happy look in her eyes, and the delicate quiver of her tiny sharp nose as she sniffed delightedly over the varnished surface.
Oh, those two led a glorious creative life there at "Top Croft." (That is what they called their attic apartment.) People living below were often puzzled by the distant faint sounds of music.
From a biography prepared by and for the Putnam Family:
Sat. Apr 4, 1992
THE HISTORY OF JANET APPLETON MERRIFIELD MICHELINI
Janet Appleton Merrifield Michelini was born August 1, 1912 in Dublin, New Hampshire. Her father was Arthur Taggard Appleton, born May 8, 1884 at Dublin, and her mother was Alice Fox born April 6, 1883 at Derrick City (near Bradford), Pennsylvania. Her parents met at the University of Vermont where they were both in school. Janet is one of four children: Francis Merrill (living) [d. Jul 6, 1992], Lois Gertrude (living), Janet, and Marilyn (also living), born in 1928 (sixteen years after Janet was born).
Janet’s father, Janet, and each of her siblings attended Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. Janet attended Peterborough High School for one year before attending Cushing Academy. After one year and a half at the academy, Janet came down with a mastoid infection. She took time off from School and recuperated, then attended Oak Grove School for girls in East Vassalboro, Maine, from which she graduated.
Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio beckoned Janet for college studies. She studied there, and then took one year off to work as a supervisor at the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home in Xenia, Ohio. She moved from cottage to cottage, a day at a time, caring for the young people. Following this year of work, she transferred to the Rhode Island School of Design to study Art. She completed the course of study. At that time they did not award degrees. The college recently decided the graduates of her day should have received degrees so in 1989 all of her classmates who completed studies with her were awarded honorary degrees.
From 1943-1946 her father was the electrical engineer in charge at Westover Air Force Base, near Springfield, Massachusetts. Janet lived at home with her parents and worked as the cashier at the PX on the base. During 1946-47, Janet learned about enamel art work with Mr. and Mrs. Rankin in Hancock. N. H. At this time her parents spent time in the summers at Dublin, New Hampshire.
From 1948-61 Janet worked at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. While on a one-year leave of absence to help her mother care for her father, she met Dick Merrifield again (she had met him first twelve years before). They were married on November 8, 1960 at Whistle Winds Farm in Dublin, N. H. where her parents were living. Janet and Dick made their first home on Court Street in Keene, living on the third floor of an apartment building just  north of the Methodist church on Court Street. This is the same apartment building where Ros and Dave Putnam made their first home.
Janet and Dick moved in 1962 to 95 Cross St., to a pleasant brick home where she had space to do her art work, and where Dick had space to do his writing. Janet taught classes at Keene State College, one year at Keene Junior High School, and one year at Keene High School, where she was substituting for teachers on leaves of absence. She also taught in the Head Start program for two summers in Keene. Janet and Dick had an apartment upstairs and had college students living there. She has a list with many of their names. She recalls one group of seven college girls who lived up there. Janet and Dick lived there until the Fall of 1977 when Dick passed away. She continued to live there nearly one more year. The following year, in June 1978, Janet moved to her sister Lois' home on Hill Top Road, in Keene. They lived there until 1985 at which time they each had a small apartment near each other at the Colonial Apartments in Keene.
About this time Janet heard from a friend that one of her acquaintances many years ago at Cushing Academy, Ronald Michelini ("Mickelini"), had lost his wife and was very lonely. Janet wrote to him and they corresponded and visited. They decided to be married and this took place May 10, 1986 at the Episcopal Church of Christ in Avon. Connecticut. More recently Janet has been a member of the West Avon Congregational Church. Ronald was previously married and his children include Donna (unmarried), and Joann Pigott, a teacher in Hartford, who has a daughter Martha Pigott who is at the Yale University Museum for British Art, and a daughter Patricia (Patsy) Pigott who teaches at the Kingswood Oxford School at Hartford. Ronald passed away in 1987 in Hartford, Conn.
Janet feels fortunate to have a studio of her own at the Farmington Valley Art Center in Avon. There are twenty studios there. She has her hours posted. 11 to 4, Wednesday through Saturday. She currently paints about forty-five paintings a year, a substantial increase from painting about fifteen a year. Janet is preparing an art show for the English Gallery in Peterborough, N.H., where Marylyn Ash is the head of the gallery. Ros Putnam inspired Janet to do this show, she said. Janet enjoys working in all media, including enamels (twelve done this year), pastels, oils, acrylics, and watercolors. She loves painting groups of stones, flowers, and other hits of nature. Her show in Peterborough will probably be titled "Microcosms."