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Rotary Manor art studio program helps seniors achieve sense of accomplishment
DAWSON CREEK – Rotary Manor residents have been spending the last year and a half honing their artistic skills, and the results were exhibited at a show at the Manor on Jan. 15.
Subjects ranged from still-lifes to objects, people and places from the artists’ memories, which they say gives them a relaxing way to remember.
One such artist, Fred Richter, worked in the resoration of vintage cars for 44 years in Pouce Coupe, including airbrushing murals and embellishments onto classic vehicles.
That stopped when he had a stroke and lost the use of his right hand, and through the “art studio” program at Rotary Manor, has been learning to draw again with his left hand.
“It was pretty hard, at first I couldn’t even write my name with my left hand,” said Richter. “I love it, I used to do airbrushing on cars, flame jobs and murals, before the stroke, but now I can only do on paper with my left hand.”
Richter draws purely from his own memory: cars, tractors, even a snowmobile which he owned while on his farm.
Eleanor Belfour also paints and draws from memory, and from her imagination, and said that the art classes have given her a feeling of satisfaction, at getting a job done.
“It’s pretty good, actually,” she told Northeast News.
Agatha Lillico, Rotary Manor’s Recreation Aide, who organizes the art classes (herself a trained artist) says she sees the therapeutic effects that artistic expression brings to her students.
“It feels great for them to achieve something which they didn’t think they were able to do,” said Lillico.
“They forget about the past, they forget about their problems, they don’t think about the future, just right now, everything is in the moment of creation.”
The art studio includes sharing the art works with all the residents of the Manor, and receiving feedback, which Lillico says is another positive experience for the artists.
The exhibition on Jan. 15, the first of the program, featured 100 artworks made by 19 residents.
“We know that supporting activities such as the arts can help keep seniors’ minds sharp,” said Mike Bernier, Peace River South MLA in a press release.
“I hope Dawson Creek residents had a chance to stop by and see local artistic flair.”