On Sept. 18, San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department a host of co-sponsors, will present Bravo for ArtAbility at the Commander’s House Adult and Senior Center. The art exhibit will feature the work of senior artists, 50 years and older, from the San Antonio area. The Bravo Show is only four years young and has grown from 40 artists at its initial show to more than 100 artists showcased for the 2015 program.
Bravo for ArtAbility will be open from 4-8 p.m. Participants will submit original creations in five categories: painting/drawing, photography, pottery/ceramics/sculpture, and fibers/crafts. Local and nationally-known artists will jury the show and live demonstrations by the artists will be conducted during the exhibit.
My interest in the show came when I received a forwarded email invitation to the show. The sender of the email thought that I might be interested for a variety of reasons: I am a senior, serve on the board of Golden Manor Jewish Senior Services and had recently enrolled in a beginners painting class. I am truly a novice artist, with only a few months of experience and less than a dozen pieces finished. I decided to submit a painting for fun, and as a means of getting a story idea.
Subsequently, I submitted an application and made arrangements to meet with Gloria De La Cruz-Sandoval, the recreation supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department, to learn more about the show. Gloria has been with Parks and Recreation for six years and had previously served as a volunteer at the San Juan Brady Community Center for eight years. We met at 8 a.m. for an hour before she conducted a 9 a.m. seniors walking class. During our meeting she gave me a tour of the Commander’s House, introduced me to one of two H-E-B lunch program chefs, Chef Albert Rodriguez, and showed me artwork by past and present participants. Most of all she was a ball of energy, touting her programs and facility.
The Commander’s House primary function is serving lunch meals to seniors but has added nine fitness classes, five art classes and five music classes. Four times a year programing moves outside for the Art in the Market, an event at El Mercado.
In addition to the classes at the Commander’s House she noted that one of the benefits of the art program was its ability to maintain contact with the homebound. She told me the story of one client who once was an active artist but now lives in a more confined location and studio work is no longer feasible. A former painter, she is now an active sketch artist and her studio has been replaced with paper and pencils. There are other artists in her program who work from home and submit pieces for display. Gloria is also proud of the Commander’s House Artist of the Month Recognition Program and showed me the photographs of recent recipients that line the stairway to the second-floor classroom and office area. The winners of the Artist of the Month are honored with a One Man Show.
I left with an application to join the Senior Program at the Commander’s House in my hand and Gloria insisted on a big goodbye hug. I am sure Gloria gives ample hugs to all the seniors who pass through the doors of the Commander’s House.
On Sept. 11 I will deliver my “Woodpecker and Flowers” painting and hope to meet a few of the participating artists. I plan to attend the show on Sept. 18 to experience my first art show and feel the energy of the show’s subtitle: “Never too Old to Create.” The winners of the show will have their artwork included in a travelling art show at various locations throughout the city through February 2016.
The co-sponsors of the event include Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG), Bexar Senior Advisory Committee (BSAC), the Information & Special Events Committee (a sub-committee of BSAC working with the Commander’s House), Bexar Area Agency on Aging, Commander’s House Senior Center, Nix Health Foundation, AARP, H-E-B, and Texas Public Radio.
*Featured/top image: Gloria de la Cruz-Sandoval arranges art pieces for the ArtAbility shot. Photo by Warren Lieberman.