Julie Goell’s Art Continues Through Parkinson’s

julie goell mosaic

After a Gaudi-filled trip to Barcelona, my cousin Julie Goell came home and created this bright-colored tile mosaic on the floor of her bathroom.

Julie can do anything, really. Build a funky chandelier out of paper. Paint, glue, hinge, and sew together amazing puppets. Sing opera. Or at least she could, before she got Parkinson’s disease.

Julie Goell Lamp

Julie used to play the bass in a Klezmer band called the Casco Bay Tummlers. I was always amazed by the way she’d carry around her instrument, which was about four-times larger than her own petite frame.

Playing bass was one of the first things Julie had to give up as her symptoms progressed.

Julie excels at physical comedy. She performed her one-woman show, “Carmen the Mopera,” in Italy, Spain, London, and York. In her Mopera, Julie played an opera house cleaning lady who mounted an after-hours performance of Carmen. The Mopera cast consisted of Julie herself and a company of brooms, feather dusters and other cleaning supplies—all of which Julie puppeteered into cast members.

As Julie’s fine motor skills and vocal control declined, she had to give up performing, too.

This would be the point where most people would give up, but not Julie.

Julie works hard to keep active. Exercise is the only way to slow down the progression of her disease. Use it or lose it applies to Parkinson’s patients in the most literal sense. Also Julie still teaches physical comedy, and she’s working on a new puppet show. She won’t be a puppeteer on this one, but she’s creating the most amazing characters out of wood and fabric and cardboard and yarn. Her puppets even have moving parts—the spiky-haired woman swings her purse, the man’s tie wiggles, and the little boy’s hat flips up.

DSC_5381 DSC_5383 Julie Goell puppet


Julie inspires me. Despite the Parkinson’s, she continues to do the things she loves to do. Yes she is sad and angry and frustrated. But she also fights hard to continue to do the activities that bring her enjoyment.

Julie teaches me so much. She reminds me how important it is to travel and create art and live while you can. That you never know what’s coming tomorrow. And never give up, even when life turns awful.

Julie Goell Puppet





  1. Susan Hanley says:

    Julie has always been an amazing person. She inspires us all!

  2. Claire Dahl says:

    Julie is a perfect example of what it means to continue to be “up and about” , letting nothing get in your way !

  3. Jean Martens says:

    Thank you for this, Lisa. I am just getting to know Julie now, and I appreciate the strength, humor and creativity that I see in her.

  4. This is a wonderful tribute to a very versatile, imaginative, brave, and creative person, with visual evidence to show it. Thank you.

  5. I think about Julie every day. I am now an academic but have been a mime, clown, musician, director, mask maker, and teacher, and I feel that if the coin had landed the other side up it could be me in Julie’s shoes. There is a boatload of emotion connected to that. But one thing that keeps popping up is the question of PEERS. Does Julie have — or need — a group of peers, of artists like herself, who share the experience of Parkinson’s or a similar fate with whom she could commiserate, collaborate, and communicate? I laud Julie as a hero with great fortitude and courage (and humor!!), and I also ache for the changes she continues to witness in herself. I wish for her a troupe of courageous heroes like her that, without needing words, UNDERSTANDS.

    • Hi Jackie,
      Thank you for the kind words. I encourage you to reach out to Julie directly. Email me if you need contact info. Lisa at missedtheboatagain.com.

  6. Thank you to everyone who has responded here or by email. It’s great to know how many Julie fans there are out there. xxo Lisa

  7. Betsey Remage-Healey says:

    Thank you Lisa for sharing this blog and this window into the world of an amazing, courageous, inspring neighbor.

  8. Penny Benson says:

    Julie is, always has been, and always will be a remarkable woman. Must be something in the gene pool because cousin Lisa is pretty terrific too!

  9. We adore Julie Goell here at Pontine Theatre. We’ve presented her shows on three different occasions here in Portsmouth NH and our audiences adore her. She is such an inspiration to so many performers here in New England!

  10. Aunt Lisa,

    I love this piece and the pictures too. That tile on aunt Julie’s floor is my favorite. She inspires me too.

  11. Julie is an expression of the divine. Her ways are grace and love. Her warmth embraces and transcends. Her transformation has not been easy to take but the truth of her shines and makes me a better person. I thank her and Avner both for helping me and I am blessed to have them as neighbors.

  12. Thank you for writing this. Julie is an inspiration for us all! Tricia

  13. I met Julie years ago at Celebration Barn performance class. She and her show are funny and inspirational to me. It is no surprise to me that she continues to create. I hope I cross pathes with her again. All the best to her.

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