Printmaker Lives Art of Staying Young

When I say that I absolutely oppose retirement, I don’t mean we should remain tethered to our lifelong, sometimes tiresome, jobs. I refer to something else altogether: retirement from life. Sitting around or watching television all day is the fastest track toward any number of ailments and perhaps an early demise.

Instead, make it your job to pursue an ongoing, active engagement in life. This can involve exercise with friends, hobbies, mingling with all ages, volunteering, staying useful and, by all means, having fun.

It can also include returning to school and starting a new career. Arthur Krakower, age 84, is not only an excellent painter and printmaker, he is also a fine example. Krakower was the oldest person to graduate from Oakland’s California College for the Arts. He received a master’s degree at age 81.

Krakower spared a few moments from painting to speak to me from his Peninsula studio. “I loved the challenge of school, and mixing with younger people,” he exclaimed over the phone. “The changes I went through keep me young.”

But, he added, “I don’t want to be remembered for my age, but for my art. It is what I do on canvas, how I handle color, that matters.”

Krakower will indeed be remembered for the quality of his art. I spoke with Andra Norris, design director of San Francisco’s City Picture Frame Gallery. During a gallery show last year, she marveled that “an entire busload of admirers came from out of town to view Krakower’s show, and 70 percent of his work was purchased.”

She added, “Krakower’s work is often based on memories of friends or relatives from his New York youth. Everyone who meets him loves him, and people have a visceral connection with the images he creates. It is magical.” Norris confirmed that it is not Krakower’s age that makes him special.

Impatient to continue working, Krakower concluded our phone conversation with a provocative comment. “Age is always there. What are you accomplishing?”

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