Archive for the ‘Arts & Culture’ Category

“Celebrate Arts and Aging” Highlights Older Americans Month Artists range from 55 to 101 years old

Philadelphia – Art is in full bloom this May as artists ranging from 55 to 101 years old showcase their work through Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) 13th annual “Celebrate Arts and Aging” festivities. For the first time, Philadelphia’s City Hall will be one of the venues for exhibits of senior art.

Held during Older Americans Month, PCA’s annual senior arts celebration will highlight older adults’ artistic talents with a total of 182 artworks on exhibit at three sites: Philadelphia Senior Center-Main Branch (Center City), Center on the Hill…the place for active adults (Chestnut Hill); and, Philadelphia’s City Hall. As part of the celebration, performing arts venues offer special discounts. There are also workshops and classes where seniors can cultivate their own creativity.


Ben Cohen’s “Lakeside” Is Signature Artwork for PCA’s 2012 “Celebrate Arts and Aging”

ImageAsked how long he’s been painting, artist Benjamin (Ben) Cohen, 88, replies, “I guess forever.” Cohen’s painting, “Lakeside,” an idyllic scene of a lakeside house with autumnal trees in the background, is the signature artwork for Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) 10th annual senior arts festival “Celebrate Arts and Aging”   It will be on exhibit during May at Independence Visitor Center in the city’s historic district and featured on posters, mailings, and electronic media publicizing the citywide celebration.

“My philosophy is that art should be uplifting and thought-provoking and may allow for quite a smile.  There is enough horror and aggravation going on nowadays. If I can make someone smile, I want to do that,” the artist says.

“Lakeside” was inspired by the one of the many outings Cohen has enjoyed with the Rancocas Valley Plein Air painters, a group of more than 30 local artists, who visit a different outdoor site to paint each week, weather permitting. “I bring my backpack with a bunch of pastels and sit and relax and paint,” Cohen explains.”People will see me and ask: ‘Are you an artist?’”

Cohen’s talent was noticed early on. The son of an iceman and a homemaker, he grew up in New York City’s Lower East Side, and attended the Henry Street Settlement, a social service agency there dedicated to “opening the doors of opportunity” to residents in the community through social services, arts, and health care programs. “They were very interested in keeping kids on the right path,” he remembers. “They thought I had talent and sent me to a life-study art class. But at nine years old, I was too embarrassed to look at the [nude] model.”

Ben CohenCohen later studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn on the GI bill, after serving in the U.S. army in World War II.

He fought in many of the war’s most famous battles, including the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Metz in France that followed the Normandy landings. Earlier this spring, during a special ceremony at the French consulate in New York City, he was one of 18 U.S. veterans presented with the Legion of Honor Chevalier for their services in the liberation of France during World War II.

“War taught me to face reality,” Cohen reflects. “I try to follow my instincts. When I do something, I don’t look back.” That goes for painting too, he says. “When I paint a nose, it’s really a nose, not just a metaphor or a philosophical statement.”

Cohen graduated Pratt with a degree in industrial design and spent 50 years as a commercial artist, designing everything from toys and sweaters to catalogues and displays. It often meant working around the clock. While those demands left little time for fine art pursuits, he squeezed in what time he could to paint in the pastel medium he favors.

After such a demanding work schedule, “I was a little leery about retiring,” he admits of that decision 10 years ago. “I thought, ‘I’ll go crazy. What will I do?’”

The answer came quickly enough. Tuesdays are spent with his fellow plein air painters. On Thursdays, he attends a class at the Philadelphia Sketch Club, where he has helped to organize exhibitions. He taught at the Philadelphia Art Alliance and Fleisher Art Memorial and currently teaches at the Willingboro Art Alliance near his Cinnaminson, New Jersey home. Most of all, life these days is centered on his home studio, “where I still work around the clock. It’s still a crazy, busy schedule.” His expressive landscapes and figure paintings have found homes in many private, corporate and public collections.

In September, the Home Fine Art Gallery in Mt. Holly, New Jersey, will open an exhibition of his work entitled “The Flip Side.” One of these artworks features Santa Claus sitting in front of a window and eyeing the raging snow and ice storm outside. “I titled it ‘I Ain’t Going Out in That,’” the artist says with a laugh.

Cohen now manages to fit in a few hobbies, including gardening. “It’s one of my passions because it’s so relaxing,” he says. “I can dig in the garden and forget the world around me. Art, when it’s on a serious level, is not overly relaxing because you are never satisfied with what you do.”

“Lakeside” will be on exhibit through May at Independence Visitor Center, 1 Independence Mall West, in Philadelphia.

For more information on this exhibit and other PCA “Celebrate Arts and Aging” exhibits and cultural opportunities this month, visit

By Marcia Z. Siegal
Source: Philadelphia Corporation for Aging

The Best Day of My Life (So Far) Needs Your Vote!

Vote for The Best Day of My Life (So Far) to win the People’s Choice Award. The storytelling and writing project, based at the Philadelphia Senior Center, is a national semi-finalist in the 2011 Beautiful Minds contest, presented by the National Center for Creative Aging & Martek Biosciences. read more>>

10 Recommendations to Ensure Programs are Inclusive, Accessible, & Relevant to New Comers to America & Older Adults

As you are aware, immigrants and older adults are collectively a growing portion of the United States population with diverse values, varying economic resources, and very different assets and challenges. Arts and cultural organizations have remarkable tools at their disposal to engage these populations through meaningful outreach while simultaneously contributing to organizational sustainability.

Culture Connects All: Rethinking Audiences in Times of Demographic Change  details ten recommendations for ensuring that programs are inclusive, accessible, and relevant to new comers to America and older adults. The recommendations are not prescriptive but are intended to provoke thought and highlight innovative models. Each recommendation is accompanied by stimulating examples from arts and cultural organizations in six cities: New York, Tampa, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, and Phoenix. We hope this report will initiate discussion within your organizations and communities on the opportunities that arise by reaching out to immigrants and older adults.  read report>>

Source: Partners for Livable Communities and MetLife Foundation

Celebrating Older Adults during May

May is Older Americans Month, designated by the U.S. Administration on Aging to pay tribute to older persons in our communities. This year’s Older Americans Month theme is “Older Americans: Connecting the Community.” This theme recognizes the diverse role of today’s older American in enriching and strengthening our community. This is a chance for each and every one of us to show our appreciation and support for all our seniors do for our community. Their shared histories, diverse experiences and wealth of knowledge have made our culture, economy and local character what they are today. -Janet Taylor,

Join Philadelphia Corporation for Aging all month long in celebrating art work created by older adults at the following locations:

  • Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street
    Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Call 215-686-5403 for more hours.
    Reception: May 4, 2011
  • Philadelphia Senior Center, 509 South Broad Street
    View art Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    Reception: May 13, 2011, 4-6 p.m.
  • Center on the Hill…the place for active adults, 8855 Germantown Ave.
    (Adjacent to the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill)
    View art Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    Reception: May 31, 2011, 5-7 p.m.

Admission to all receptions & exhibits is free.

PCA’s Celebrate Arts & Aging – CALL FOR ARTISTS

Do you know a talented older adult artist?

For the ninth year, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging invites artists age 55-plus to submit works to be considered for Older Americans Month.
Celebrate Arts & Aging is a month-long, city-wide celebration featuring exhibitions of extraordinary original artwork by older artists.

Submission Deadline: Monday, March 28, 2011

More information @

Art will be exhibited during the entire month of May at the following locations:

  • Center on the Hill (website)
  • Free Library of Philadelphia -Main Branch (website)
  • Philadelphia Senior Center (website)

PCAs Growing Healthy with the Flower Show!!

FlowerPCAs Growing Healthy event includes screenings, gardening tips, cooking demos and more.

Tickets are just $10 and includes a Free One-Time Admission to the Flower Show.

To purchase tickets to the health event, call 215-765-9000,
ext. 5055 or email

For more details, visit

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