Witnessing the healing power of art


MONTCLARION NEWSPAPER – March 20 2009

FINALLY, something to look forward to in old age. No, I’m not talking about my AARP discount, though Lord knows that’s a sweet deal.art-for-elders

I’m talking about Art with Elders.

I witnessed the healing power of this program at Oakland’s McClure Convalescent Hospital the other day. Five elderly residents were happily creating collages and drawings under the watchful eye of renowned Oakland artist Zimou Tan.

“There’s a lot of energy in art,” Tan said as he worked with his students. “It takes a lot of positive energy to keep them moving and get them off something troubling.”

Margaret Lucy is living proof. She was working on an animal collage to enter in the Eldergivers annual art exhibition. In fact, she’d sold one of her pieces recently for $20. She proudly displays some of her favorite collages on the door of her room down the hall.

“Without this,” Lucy said, “it would be boring.”

Sadness and boredom release toxins that can put stress on the body and make a person feel lethargic and hopeless. But art is like meditation, and Tan’s classes are something the seniors look forward to each week.

If you’d like to help with the Art with Elders program, check out their Web site at http://www.eldergivers.org. You can see much of the senior art on this site and even purchase a piece if you’d like.

CURRY UP: Good things come in small packages — like the spicy delights at Flavors of India in Montclair. Who knew such a tiny space (barely enough for the old Top Dog) could be transformed into an appealing little eatery? The mixed tandoori grill comes out sizzling with a hearty helping of seafood, lamb and chicken; the vegetable Masala is savory and the Naan and dipping sauces are addicting. Now all they need is belly dancing.

E-MAIL BAG: Thanks to reader Andrea Daniel for letting me know about the “crafty” group of gals who knit caps for cancer patients. Daniel, with the American Cancer Society, says the donations come from a group called Knitting Pals (www.knittingpals.org), as well as patrons and owners of the old Knitting Basket in Montclair (now at 2708 98th Ave. in Oakland).

GREAT NIGHT OUT: What do you get when you mix sports with live theater? In San Francisco you get a charming ACT production called “Volleygirls,” a play about the excitement and drama of high school girls volleyball. With the stage set as a gym, the young ladies (including Miramonte High sophomore Katie Rich) pull you into their games, their spats and their quest for a win against a tough crosstown rival. It’s the perfect family outing — through March 28 (www.act-sf.org).

SPEAKING OF SPORTS … Reader Al Koch wants to give a “shout out” to his Saint Mary’s High School Lady Panthers, who just wrapped up an awesome basketball season. Four of the girls and two of the coaches (including Koch) are from Oakland, and they went all the way to the NorCal final under head coach Nate Fripp.

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