Clark-Lindsey exhibit shows seniors putting skills, interests into action


Listen to this article

URBANA — At the Clark-Lindsey Village art gallery, there's a woman deep in concentration as her hands hug wet clay.

There's a man holding up his brush to a canvas.

And a couple, smiling in a pool.

They're photographs of local residents who haven't let age keep them from pursuing the things they love to do. As Clark-Lindsey CEO Deb Reardanz put it, there are still teachers who teach, writers who write, painters who paint and "librarians who library."

And they're all over 60.

Despite entering the autumn years of their lives, as some described it during Wednesday's opening of "The Passions Project" exhibit, the residents depicted in the photos have that same deep desire in their hearts for hobbies they've had for years in some cases, and for new skills they've developed recently.

For "The Passions Project," photographer Heidi Wagner looked to immerse herself into the "full lives" of some of the community of elders she's come across. Through photography, she said, she's presenting "these older adults in the midst of actively living out their passions."

Herschel Cline, a former real-estate broker who lives at Clark-Lindsey, has had many hobbies in the past, like running and theology.

"And we may not be able to do a lot of those anymore," he said. "I used to run five miles in two minutes. I think that's what happened to my knee. But as we age, we discover new abilities."

Cline's latest passion: rediscovering the love he had for painting, his major at Illinois Wesleyan University.

On Wednesday, he presented his two most recent pieces shown in Wagner's photo — one of a winter garden painted this spring called "Mother Nature's April Fool," and the other of a bouquet of roses he gave to his wife.

"As a child I liked to color, and I kept at it," Cline said. "It's taught me that we may be good today, but that we're going to be better tomorrow."

Helen Thursh got hooked on pottery late in life. She had already taught children's classes in writing, worked as a medical editor and become a nurse by the time she put a spinning wheel in her studio — then the basement under her apartment.

She's now frequently seen molding clay at the Champaign-Urbana potter's club because, she was quick to say, you can't just wash the stuff off in the sink at Clark-Lindsey.

"You'd block everything up," she said. "It's dirty work. But I do hand-building here sometimes. That doesn't create as much clay dust."

She molds minds, too. Thursh is a part of the University of Illinois' Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, aka OLLI, where she takes classes and discusses pieces in the New Yorker every week. And she has organized craft fairs for people to show off their work, and for her to display her own beadwork. On top of it all, she has recently taken a little spot to herself in the garden.

"Pottery is my first love, and I'm looking forward to getting more involved in it," Thursh said. "But I have many passions."

Cline, cane in hand and smiling next to his paintings, won't stop partaking in his passion any time soon, but knows things reach their end.

"I keep thinking about something in, I believe, Ecclesiastes: 'Everything on Earth has its own time,'" Cline said. "We've got the autumn days of our lives upon us. But there's still a lot of living we have to do."