East Sider

Storied Career

Jane Adler on a cultivated life of horticulture, humor, art, and community


What do you do when you’re a columnist and the publishing syndicate you’re contracted with is keeping more than its fair share of profits from the merchandising of your cartoons and other creative output? You start your own boutique syndicate – or at least, that’s what longtime writer, artist, and East Sider Jane Adler decided to do. Adler, who grew up in Providence, moved to New York, and later moved back home to settle down with her husband, was “discovered” by North America Syndicate – now King Features Syndicate – while working full-time as a freelancer for the Providence Journal “more than 20 years ago,” she estimates. In doing so, Adler joined the ranks of legendary columnists and cartoonists like Erma Bombeck and Jules Feiffer. She later founded Whitegate Features Syndicate, with contributor contracts giving 50/50 merchandise profits – “So what happened is that all of the other syndicated columnists came to my syndicate,” she says.

Adler has worn myriad professional hats, from oil painter to plant shop owner, to art director for Trinity Repertory (then Trinity Square), to hostess for PBS television, to the owner of her own advertising agency, Adler Advertising. She was one of the only women at the time to be voted into the Art Directors Club of New York. Her best-known syndicated column is the weekly “Indoor Gardening,” which combined drawings of plants with her signature wit and curiosity. Her current pursuit is photography.

“I’m just glad I was in [the publishing] business when it was terrific,” Adler says. “Everybody wanted to do what I was doing.” Like many others, she laments the changes that have hurt the industry since the Internet became popular and widespread. “I like reading on a newspaper — feeling the physical thing.”

Adler is also active in a number of community organizations, including serving as head of Communications and PR at Lifelong Learning, where she is also a board member and organizes its popular brown bag lunches. She is the membership chairman of the Pottery and Porcelain Club and serves as a board member and Membership and Activities Chairman of the Providence Village, which is “neighbors helping neighbors.”

In their free time, Adler and her husband enjoy life in Providence. “I’ve had a wonderful career,” Adler muses. “I’ve traveled, met presidents — just everything was wonderful.”

Adler’s latest photography show will be up at the gallery at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Barrington until “at least March.”