In a Nutshell: A Portrait of Elizabeth Tashjian

Sometimes what beguiles you engulfs you. Born of aristocratic Armenian parents, Elizabeth Tashjian was a gifted but nutty artist. At the age of nine, she began a short-lived career as a concert violinist; by age twenty-one, she was a classical painter studying at the National Academy of Design. In middle age, she chucked it all to become a devout Christian Science healer. Then Tashjian retreated to the confines of an immense Victorian-era manse and turned her attention to nuts-yes, those dry indehiscent one-seeded fruits with a woody pericarp. Nuts large and small, from every continent and corner; nuts as nature intended and nuts carved, painted, and festooned. A single bowl of nuts begat others to become the Nut Museum, shrine to a friendly fixation. Bernier's well-salted portrait gets to the pithy core of Tashjian's unusual passions. Now in her nineties and declared insane by her guardians, Elizabeth Tashjian is struggling to regain the well-ordered world of her nuts.

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