New Exhibits Spotlight Elder Artists

When I wrote about 84-year-old artist Arthur Krakower (www.arthurkrakower.com), I had no clue that he was just the tip of the iceberg. A fabulous connection between elders and the visual arts flourishes in the Bay Area, under the auspices of Eldergivers.

Guided by the mission “to connect elders with the community,” Eldergivers oversees three art programs. Showcased as “Elder Arts 2004,” they are: Art With Elders; Elder Arts Celebration; and a yearly solo exhibition of a nationally recognized Bay Area elder artist known for innovative excellence through the decades.

AWE, which has been around since 1991, brings professional artists to skilled nursing home facilities to teach weekly classes. Some 300 residents in 28 Bay Area nursing homes now benefit from excellent instruction. These same artists also showcase their work in a yearly San Francisco exhibit.

“We do so much with minimal funding, and like all arts programs we are struggling for funds,” explains Brent Nettles, Eldergivers’ executive director. “But a little bit more would go a long way and allow us to expand our program to more homes.” Eldergivers’ Web site is eldergivers.org.

Having worked in a skilled nursing homes, I absolutely support and rejoice that such a stimulating program exists.

The EAC exhibit concentrates on 44 artists over age 65 who are students, faculty or alumni of prominent Bay Area art institutions including San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Arts (formerly called CCAC), City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University.

The current artist of the year is nationally known painter Paul Wonner. His work is represented by galleries in New York and San Francisco and is also held in the collections of prominent museums. Part of the renowned “Bay Area Figurative Painters” movement, Wonner is considered a leader in reviving still life art from the 1970s to the 1990s. To have been chosen, Wonner is in very select artistic company. He joins previous prominent recipients Nathan Olivera and Ruth Osawa.

Wonner’s current work focuses on watercolors of nature, most notably the “In the Park Series.” Obviously age—he’s 84—is no matter for this busy working artist.

Nettle aptly summarizes the value of Elder Arts 2004 by saying, “These exhibits allow you an art perspective you will not find anywhere else, and you can purchase the artists’ work too.”

And I will add—you can have fun and meet these fabulous artists at the receptions.