Event Coverage: 11/24/2008  

Art is Ageless

Every morning Mary Moore wakes and walks three blocks to the George G. Glenner Alzheimer's Family Center, where she’s been a volunteer for over 20 years, hosting a half-hour news program, “AFC Broadcast News.” During her segment, more akin to a “Best Of Review” or evening variety show, Moore presents the day’s current affairs, sings, recites poetry, hosts a Q&A—and has even been known to read speech excerpts from President-elect Barack Obama.

A retired schoolteacher with a sharp wit and strong sense of being, Moore’s a woman of presence. She’s a woman driven by creativity and fiercely dedicated to helping stir the imaginations of others. From her days teaching at Frances Parker to the “AFC Broadcast News”, Moore has a history of organizing originality. Her most recent endeavor, The Creativity Show, sought to, as Moore puts it, “get all the good stuff from outta closed doors and out here so we all could see what everybody was up to.”

“It all started,” she smiles, “when Sister Justina (a co-producer of the show) saw my Easter Day collage on my door and said ‘we outta do an art show together!’ So we did. And this is the result.” Moore nods to the room behind her, normally a community lounge within her apartment center, re-arranged and bustling with neighbors and friends alike. The result, as displayed on walls and round tables, ranges from poems to hand-crafted clothes and jewelry, wood carving to hand-sewn dolls. There are photographs, knitted blankets, pressed leaves from a 1960s trip to Israel, and pottery made fifty years ago in an elementary school classroom.

Sitting next to a sign-in sheet, the show’s statement is made plain: “The purpose of the show: To remind Seniors that creativity is ageless. It is not limited to only the young. No matter the age, media or degree, creativity is a living, spiritual and vital human expression.”

Raul Quinones, the building maintenance supervisor, presented his poems and walking sticks fashioned mostly from fallen Eucalypts branches. “This one walking stick,” he says handling a tall staff with intricate etching and face carved into the top, “inspired me to work on them all. I was in Azusa, walking the Garcia trail, just walking and I saw a face in the wood. I saw a face in that.”

Darrell Dewitt brought his collection of small wooden sculptures. When asked how long he had been working on his craft, Dewitt laughs. “Carving? Forever. Oh, about 1953 is when I started that Cyclops,” he says picking up his piece. “Took it to Iceland when I was in the service and was working on it up there. I chiseled it, blew the hell out of it with a blow torch, used a stiff brush, washed it off with bleach to bring out the grain and painted it with that heavy polyurethane.”

One table over there is a spread of books and a note, explaining, “My art isn’t something I can bring and show, but here are some things to ‘explain' my fun.”

On the opposite wall hangs an old cross-stitch, faded but well preserved, with the name “Rebecka Conkle, 1820” stitched at the bottom. Juxtaposed is a note that reads, “This is very special to me. I named my adopted daughter after it and I have learned more [from her] than books ever taught.”

The participants were neighbors of Moore and Sister Justina—folks who would not necessarily consider themselves “artists”. They were recruited by way of a sign-up sheet, simply advertising the show’s purpose and date. “Days and days would go by and no one had signed-up, and then—boom!” Moore remembers. “All of a sudden, they came. And here we are. I am very happy with it all.”

The show’s success is largely due to both women’s fundamental understanding of art as a part of the daily quotidian. Art is what makes life fluid, what satisfies the soul and propels the mind. In his poem, “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower”, William Carlos William writes of the necessity of art, of imagination, of substance in the everyday: 
    It is difficult
to get the news from poems
          yet men die miserably every day
                    for lack
of what is found there.

Such was the spirit of the Creativity Show. The aim was simple: create and share. There were no limits or guidelines, just an invitation.

“It is important to show that, beside your regular job, you use your talent,” says Sister Justina, a soft-spoken woman with an impressive series of hand-stitched dolls. “To never give up. [Creativity] is a special gift. A lot of spark goes into the act of creation. It is very fulfilling and makes a lot of people very happy—and it is God given, so we have to use it.”


--Jordan Anne Karnes
  Photos by Brad Kester

Tags: Brad Kester, Art is Ageless, Jordan Karnes, Creativity Show


I love this! the last paragraph is amazing, thanks Jordan and Brad.
Zack Nielsen made this post on 11/24/2008 at 5:17 pm
holy awesomeness. . . can i go to thier hangout seshions? and like do whatever?
pooh made this post on 11/24/2008 at 8:44 pm
nicely put jord. what an evening
wes bruce made this post on 11/26/2008 at 11:04 pm
Mary Moore is an absolute delight. I am so blessed that I got to see her in action at the Glenner center where her joy overflows to all around her.
Sharon made this post on 12/3/2008 at 1:36 pm

Leave a comment

Sezio will never publish your information