Celebrating art and aging
Fran McGowan, 73, recently found a new way to take it easy, and you might consider she’s earned it.
Life has kept her pretty busy. Now a retiree, the Bell’s Corner resident always worked and she raised nine kids, too. Now, she paints.
“I find it very relaxing,” she said during an interview last week at her Loretto Avenue home.
Part of that is in the fact that painting has no limits.
“You do your own interpretations of what you see,” she said. “I might see a picture and I might wind up changing things around until it’s giving me what I want.”
One of McGowan’s interpretations is being exhibited at the Klein branch of the Jewish Community Center as part of the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s “Celebrate Arts and Aging” program this month.
Not bad for someone who just picked up a paintbrush for the first time this year.
Exhibiting paintings for PCA’s annual show of senior art is a first for the JCC, too, according to PCA spokeswoman Marcia Siegal. The JCC, 10100 Jamison Ave., also is hosting a meet the artists event from 4 to 6 p.m. next Tuesday.
McGowan got into painting by taking an eight-week course earlier this year at the JCC. Now she’s producing acrylic on paper renderings of whatever attracts her attention.
“I always wanted to paint but never had the time or the money,” she said.
There’s talent in her family, she said. A daughter creates stained glass and a nephew is an architect.
As a new artist, McGowan has not painted people, but has concentrated on still life of flowers and some landscapes.
She said she likes using acrylic paints because it’s easy to put one color on top of another or peel colors away if she changes her mind.
Her subjects usually are found in photographs, McGowan said. One of her paintings has a distinctive Southwestern feel to it. That, she said, is because of some time she recently spent in Arizona.
McGowan’s piece is among 183 artworks — paintings, drawings, photos, ceramics, jewelry, fabric designs and carvings — PCA is exhibiting this month at JCC; the main branch of the Philadelphia Senior Center, 509 S. Broad St.; the Independence Visitor Center, 1 Independence Mall West; and the Center on the Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave.
“We know that staying active and engaged is one of the keys to healthy aging, and the arts specifically have been shown to have a broad range of physical, mental and emotional benefits,” said Holly Lange, PCA senior vice president. “Our goal is to encourage older people to connect with all of the opportunities to experience the wealth of artistic possibilities our region has to offer, and to showcase the work of senior artists.”
For more information on “Celebrate Arts and Aging” activities, visit www.phillyfunguide.com/celebrate or call PCA’s help line, 215-765-9040. ••