Celebrating art and aging

Fran McGow­an, a new artist, has one of her paint­ings on ex­hib­it at the Klein branch of the Jew­ish Com­munity Cen­ter. McGow­an’s piece is one of 183 on dis­play as part of a pro­gram sponsored by the Phil­adelphia Cor­por­a­tion for Aging. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA /


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. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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