By Lee Sutter
Artwork by a dozen arts-and-crafters in North County retirement villages or residential care facilities is featured on a 2012 calendar.
The Paso Robles Art Association tracked down, interviewed and photographed the seniors, and collected their art to produce “Art for Life.” The calendar unveiling will kick off a three-week exhibit of the art at the Showroom Gallery at Studios on the Park.
Among the better-known artists the association rounded up is sculptor Roy Harris, who fashioned the three life-size mustang statues on the Cal Poly campus. At 87, he’s still full of zip and vinegar, and sculpts at an Atascadero facility where he lives independently.
“I’m still pushing clay,” said Harris. “It’s the only way I’ve managed to stay out of jail this long.”
An internationally recognized sculptor of Western art, Harris fit in his higher education while being a cowboy for 50 years. Harris, who holds a doctorate, is also recognized worldwide as a research scientist and geneticist.
For some, this is their first time in the limelight.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” said Helen Calbretta of Atascadero, who took up the brush 25 years ago and gave her paintings to friends and relatives.
At 83, she’s among the youngest of the seniors who work in oils, watercolors, pastels, bronze sculpture, fabric and yarn.
Now in a board-and-care home, Olive Wollesen-dejoodt tops the age list at 104. She took art classes as a child, and began painting while working with her husband on their farm. Her paintings are classically based and worthy of museums.
A former teacher at the Art Center in Los Angeles, Mary Sheridan, 96, of Atascadero specializes in horses.
Sheridan said she considers them more interesting to paint than to own. Her watercolor of cultivated flower fields graces the calendar’s cover.
Eloise Johnson of Creston Village, 87, paints in the style of Dutch masters, in her “Austrian Scene.”
Retired sign maker Tony Manier put his artistic bent for color, acquired from bending neon, into painting, capturing the hushed glow through Yosemite’s redwoods. Manier, 87, is in an Atascadero care center.
Each calendar page features a full photo of the featured art, with a small portrait and biography of the artist.
Some of the featured artists began painting after retirement.
The offerings are not just of paintings and bronze. Some of the seniors express their art through needlepoint and quilts.
The project goal is threefold, according to Phyllis Frank, calendar committee chair.
The PRAA wants to acknowledge seniors in independent living or assisted-care facilities for their lifetime of art and craft work.
“We want to encourage our senior artists to continue to work in their mediums as age diminishes other opportunities,” Frank said in a news release.
The calendar is also a way for the nonprofit to raise funds. Calendars, $15, will be for sale until the end of 2011.
IF YOU GO
What: “Art for Life,” calendar and exhibit
When: Aug. 25 through Sept. 8
Where: Showroom Gallery, Paso Robles Art Association, Studios on the Park, 1130 Pine St., Paso Robles
Hours: Reception 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday; regular hours noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and Sunday; noon to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Contact: 434-2731, 238-5473 or http://www.pasoroblesart.org