By Sue Ann Rybak
Center on the Hill, the place for active adults, 8855 Germantown Ave., is hosting local seniors artwork as part of Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s tenth annual “Celebrate Arts and Aging,” a month-long, city-wide celebration that features the talent and creativity of older Philadelphians.
Amanda Buonmo, PCA’s special events manager, said the first exhibit featured only 20 pieces by senior artists older than 55. She said this year’s exhibits features 180 works of art at four different locations throughout Philadelphia: Philadelphia Senior Center, Center on the Hill in Chestnut Hill, Independence Visitor Center in Old City and the Klein JCC in Northeast Philadelphia. The exhibits features a wide range of media including paintings, sculpture, collage, wearable art, photography and calligraphy.
Holly Lange, senior vice president for PCA, keynote speaker at Center on the Hill’s reception, said this year’s art exhibit, which features works from seniors 56 to 99 years old, is partially funded by PECO.
“Older people have many talents,” Lange said. “Just because you retire, it doesn’t mean you are going to sit in a rocking chair. Many of our older citizens in Philadelphia are very ambitious, very industrious and have a lot to offer.”
Buonmo said that while a few of the participants are professional artists, many of the featured artists are not; they come from a variety of fields including nursing, business administration, computer programming and engineering.
“What is so great about this is many of these artists were not artists when they were younger,” Buonmo said. “They picked it up when they were older. They are remarkable.”
She said several of the artists started after attending a class at a local senior center. The quality of their work is incredible.”
“They have time to see the light and the color and the time to paint it,” Buonmo said. “It’s my favorite time; it’s like Christmas opening up all the artwork and seeing it all. I just love being able to showcase it all over the city.”
Ed Richman, 72, who worked as a scientist and engineer for 42 years, said he started painting after retiring.
“I am very directed towards left-brain type of activities,” Richman said. “I had to get into something where I could express myself. I started by buying the world’s cheapest paints and painting on poster board. I saw something I thought would make a nice painting so I painted it, and it was awful. I said I got to do something about this.”
So he decided to take classes at the Art institute of San Franisco. Richman’s work is anything but awful. Richman, who has been painting for four years now, said his latest work is “technically better.”
“You have to be pleased with what you do,” Richman said. “That’s what keeps us going – what drives us to stay alive. Taking a photograph just doesn’t do it for me so I try to paint something of significance to me.”
Sixty-six-year-old Mt. Airy resident Gwendlyn Bundy said she just started drawing one day and decided to take a class at Center in the Park for “fast drawing art.”
“I always loved art,” said Bundy, a former administrative coordinator. “It felt so natural to be drawing.”
Bundy piece entitled “Complete” was mixed-media, a combination of acrylic and gel. She said her work has a lot of color and texture it it.
“I like to use some of the things people throw away as part of my work such as string or twine,” Bundy said. “When I do something I give it a little of me. I like to put my spin on it. I think everyone is a little artistic.”
For 64-year-old Mt. Airy resident Carol Perrott, photography is all about “capturing that magic moment.” Perrott, a retired registered nurse said she started taking pictures as a hobby.
Perrott’s photograph entitled “Gray Brick Road” was taken in the Sculpture Garden in Hamiliton, N.J.
“My two-year-old grandson, Cash, was wandering around, and I just snapped it,” Perrott said. “This is the first time I have ever entered anything.”
This was the first year 77-year-old Mt. Airy resident Dolores Bauerle Campbell entered the exhibit.
“I don’t normally enter anything like this – for older people,” said Campbell, a former art director and artist – “because I don’t think of myself as old.”
As part of the “Celebrate Arts and Aging” event, seniors will have the opportunity to “make and experience art” by attending free performances or participating in a free or discounted workshop. For example, Center in the Park is offering several classes including a color workshop on May 29 and May 30. Other events include free concerts at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts: Live from the Plaza Stage on May 26 at 6 p.m. or Sittin’ In on Wednesday, May 30 at 8 p.m. For more information about these and other events throughout May go to www.phillyfunguide.com/celebrate.