HomeNewsCreativity on display at KleinLife

Creativity on display at KleinLife

Valentina Mirochnik, 95, pictured with one of her paintings and embroidered dresses that she created and displayed. She started painting at the age of 78.
Lyudmila Shelukha shows event attendee Margarita Lomazov her paintings and ornament works of art.
From left: Andrea Kimelheim, active adult life program director and event coordinator; Sara Rudkina; Linda Hershman; Robin Zager; Elizabeth Kolyada; Elmira Kaplan; Russell Williams; Diedre Cole Stein; and Marsha Richman.
Origami books with a variety of shapes and sizes made by Linda Brown of The Page Turner.

By Rhonda Hoffman

Special to the Times

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Creativity was on display when more than two dozen seniors showed off their artistic talents at KleinLife, the largest senior center in Philadelphia, on May 30, to mark National Creativity Day.

Observed since 2018, this special day was created to “celebrate imaginative spirits everywhere and to encourage them to keep creating.”

Since its origin, the day has been marked at community centers, schools and other venues at which local residents get to display their talents. And the talent was in no short supply at this Northeast Philadelphia senior center, which is housed in the Raymond and Miriam Klein Building located at 10100 Jamison Ave.

Painters, photographers, knitters and sculptors – and everyone in between – amassed their best works and had them exhibited on easels and tables in the center’s spacious community room. About 100 community members filtered in during the hours-long display and ‘’oohed and aahed” at the diversity and caliber of the work shown.

Among those presenting artwork was Elizabeth Kolyada, who displayed her own oil paintings as well as that of her 95-year old mother, Valentina Mirochnik.

“My mother didn’t start painting until she was 78, said Kolyada about her mother, a modern-day Grandma Moses.

Also showcasing her talents was Linda Brown who employs her skills at origami, a traditional Japanese art of folding paper, to create unique designs with the pages of a book. After many long hours on a single project, she makes personalized items by folding the pages in any given book in distinctive patterns to create such words as “peace,” “hope,” or perhaps individual names, thus fashioning a truly unique and eye-catching piece.

“It makes a great wedding, bar/bat mitzvah or birthday gift,” said Brown, who operates a business called The Page Turner, which features these novel items.

Russell Williams, an art teacher at KleinLife, remarked, “Several of my students have their work displayed here. It is truly a spot where they can shine.”

Among those students were husband-and-wife Barbara and David Bettinger, and Bobbie Slosberg, whose brightly colored flowers and birds caught the eye of many an art appreciator at the local show.

Also among those showcasing her talents at National Creativity Day was Linda Hershman, a retired coordinator of adult education at KleinLife, whose needlepoint gold pillow stood in a class by itself for its intricate and unique design. Her handiwork also includes handcrafted pocketbooks, dolls and kipot (religious skullcaps).

It seems like artistic talent runs in the family, as her late father, Abe Schwartz, was the resident sculptor and art teacher at the center for many years. Several of his works, including a bust of Mark Twain, were displayed in the lobby’s art gallery in the 1980s and ‘90s.

Among those representing KleinLife’s Russian Satellite program were Sheva Kruglikov, whose output included beautifully designed hand-knitted sweaters, and Sara Rudkina, whose works featured hand-painted stones and shells as well as other items gleaned from nature.

Instrumental in organizing the highly successful show was Inna Gulko, KleinLife’s director of support services, and Andrea Kimelheim, director of senior programming.

“We were pleasantly surprised at the number of responses we received from people who wanted to display their work. We tried to accommodate everyone who wanted to submit their creations,” noted Kimelheim.

According to Gulko, it felt like a real gallery experience, judging by the caliber of the submissions, as well as the dozens of community members who viewed the works as they sipped sparkling apple juice, munched on skewers of fruit, individual bags of nuts as well as baked goodies.

“If you had closed your eyes for a moment, you could have imagined that you were at a downtown art gallery,” said Gulko.

For those at the show who wanted to try their hand at their own creations, a coloring table was set up with printed sheets of outlined mandalas. Prominent in Eastern religion, a mandala. which is a Sanskrit word meaning “center” or “circle,” consists of repeating shapes and patterns inside a sphere that symbolize harmony, unity and interconnectedness. Aspiring artists were encouraged to color them any way they chose.

Those participating in this aspect of the art-filled afternoon seemed pleased with their own colorful creations. Many may have well agreed with the words of Albert Einstein, who said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun,” or the acclaimed writer/poet Maya Angelou who said, “You can’t use up creativity — the more you use, the more you have.” ••

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