“No matter where I go—North, South, East or West—I always come back to Savannah.” Indeed, the picturesque city of Savannah, Georgia, would be formative not only in Myrtle Valdosta Braddy Jones’s life, but it would also be the chief muse for her fifty-year career as a painter. Born in Forsyth County, she was orphaned by the age of nine, first losing her minister father to pneumonia and then her mother to typhoid fever. Myrtle, who was known by the nickname “Berr,” and her two younger sisters were shuffled between relatives’ homes for the balance of their childhoods. As a teenager, she was misdiagnosed with tuberculosis and spent six months in a sanitorium, where she first pursued art. Following her high school graduation, Jones went to Atlanta to train as a beautician; she briefly operated her own shop in Winder, Georgia, before returning to Atlanta to serve as a clerical assistant in the Third Army Headquarters there.

In 1943, Myrtle Jones visited her sister in Savannah and resolved to stay. She held a series of administrative posts and got married, an unhappy union that ended in divorce. Later that decade, she enrolled in art classes at the Telfair Academy of Arts & Sciences (now the Telfair Museums) under Emil Holzhauer and Reuben Gambrell and at Armstrong Junior College (now Armstrong State University). Hattie Saussy was a professional mentor to Jones and a cherished friend; she would later perform the ceremonial duty of giving the bride away at Jones’s second wedding. Active in the Savannah Art Association and the Association of Georgia Artists, Jones lived and maintained a studio in an historic four-story townhouse located on Gordon Row.

The majority of Jones’s work—executed in pen and ink, pastel, watercolor, and oil—featured the streetscapes, parks, and historic structures of Savannah; she also did a few portraits. Her paintings are characterized by expressive brushwork and frequently include people, which Jones believed made her scenes “come alive.” During the 1950s and 1960s, her paintings were dominated by saturated earth tones, but later she lightened her palette considerably, perhaps under the influence of her second husband, Leonard King, in 1968.

Jones was also an aspiring author, publishing her autobiography, A Savannah Experience: An Artistic Expression of My Life in Savannah, in 1995. A short story, “Lost in Paris,” describes her travels to France, Spain, and Czechoslovakia around 1964. Jones’s papers—currently housed at the Savannah College of Art and Design—include several other short stories, documentation of her work as an illustrator during the late 1960s and early 1970s for the Hunter Army Airfield, and records of her preservation efforts for her historic house, as well as a transcript of an oral history.

Upon her death in 2005, Jones bequeathed several paintings and a one-million-dollar endowment to the Telfair Museums. Her obituary describes her personality: “Myrtle was funny, passionate, stylish, opinionated, and outspoken. . . . She loved to walk her dogs along the streets and through the parks, eat pizza on Saturday at the Volvo Dealership, and drive fearlessly anywhere and in any direction around town.”