They are creative and passionate, producing works that inspire and uplift. They are artists. International Artist Day, celebrated annually on October 25, recognizes all artisans for their contributions to our culture, regardless of their experience or skill level.
And a group of talented artisans at Atlantic Shores Retirement Community is proving that while art is ageless, artists can be as well! Creating with paint, cameras, stained glass, pastels, and mixed media, the community’s artists take inspiration from the surrounding beauty of Atlantic Shores’ 100-acre campus. As fall color comes alive, many of these artists will celebrate the holiday by gathering on a lake near the heart of the community for an outdoor art session.
Just like their younger contemporaries, the works of these seasoned artists are showcased in gallery shows and exhibits, with many of their pieces in private and corporate collections both locally and abroad. Each year, a collection is also featured in a showcase gallery during Atlantic Shores’ Home & Garden Tour. And a rotating selection is featured on display in two of Atlantic Shores’ busiest Clubhouse corridors.
Many artists are self-taught, others are taught by talented fellow residents in the community’s sunny art studio. Some residents are also instructed by professionals, including classes at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).
And appreciation for the arts goes beyond creating their own masterpieces, with trips to local art shows and exhibits at the Chrysler Museum, and Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art to appreciate the work of other artists.
Resident artist Ann McDowell recently spearheaded the creation of Atlantic Shores’ newest artist’s group, composed of artists, craftspersons, and art aficionados. The group meets monthly for art demos and field trips, including to The Artists Gallery in Virginia Beach, where Anne is a member. Her background reflects the diversity of talents among her fellow residents. Ann studied photography at The International School of Photography in New York, and painting at the Virginia Museum, Smithsonian, and The Art League. Her recent style is acrylic incorporating collage, with pieces showcased in four solo shows, and honored with awards at several juried exhibits.
An exceptional painter who re-creates works by the world’s master artists, resident artist Jane Webster considers herself an ongoing art student and attributes her talents to superb teachers over the years. Her appreciation for the arts goes beyond simply creating her own masterpieces. She has also been a Master Docent at the Chrysler Museum for 19 years.
Also very active in supporting the arts, resident artist Barbara Fleming even has a gallery named after her at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.
Teachers and students alike are finding fulfillment through art — some discovering their creative side for the first time later in life, and others reconnecting with artistic talents now that they have time to devote to.
After her husband passed away in 1984, resident artist Margene Sullivan began blooming in her late-eighties, enrolled in painting and dancing classes to fill her time. She developed her fledgling talent, and is now one of the most talented pastel artists in the community. Her artwork has been featured in a student exhibit at the Virginia MOCA. At times, Margene has been the oldest person in her art class, to which she commented, “that’s just fine with me. It’s never too late to learn something new, and to do something you love.”
And their works are capturing the attention of a national fan base as well, winning several categories in the LeadingAge Virginia online senior art show, competing against pieces of art from 17 retirement communities across the state. Some are taking this national exposure to a new level, like 79 year-old artist George Ikonen, who’s also gained fame by being featured “in the buff” while creating one of his paintings as a model in the Pin-Up Boys of Atlantic Shores Calendar, a nearly-nude fundraising calendar featuring gentlemen from the retirement community.
Camaraderie keeps the Atlantic Shores artist community moving forward, encouraging and spurring each other’s creativity. As George Ikonen says, “I first picked up a paintbrush in 1972 before heading overseas as part of the Marine Corp. It wasn’t until 2009, when I took a class at Atlantic Shores, that I took up painting again. Now it is such a big part of my life, I don’t know what I’d do without it. I have my friends at Atlantic Shores to thank for that gift.”
For more details on the Atlantic Shores lifestyle, visit www.atlanticshoresliving.com.