Anything but Gray Calendar from Eldergivers

Aging Today, November/December 2003 | Go to article overview

Anything but Gray Calendar from Eldergivers


The 2004 Anything But Gray calendar is one of two impressive new publications from Art With Elders (AWE), part of Eldergivers, a San Francisco nonprofit organization. The brilliantly colorful calendar includes works by 12 elders who came to art late in life through AWE's classes in long-term care facilities. Each month in the calendar, which opens to 17 by 11 inches, includes an artwork and a brief biography of the artist, along with the elder's photograph.

For example, Ho Cheung Chung, whose "U.S. Navy Man" is reproduced for the month of April, was trained as a physician in his native Canton, China, before moving to Miami, Fla., at age 25. In 1985 he moved to San Francisco, where he had a practice as an acupuncturist. A client of the 19th Avenue Healthcare Center, he began painting 14 years ago and his work has appeared in two publications.

Also new from Eldergivers is Nine Lives: Uncovering the Wealth of Life Stories Within Our Nursing Homes. The beautifully designed book emerged from the Eldergivers Life Stories Program, which pairs long-term care residents with writers who volunteer to help tell the elders' stories. The 168-page quality paperback, edited by Sarah J. Merrill, is volume one of what Eldergivers hopes will be a continuing series. Each chapter of Nine Lives includes an individual elder's story with photographs, along with a page by the participating writer with biographical notes and comments about the writer's experiences working with the elder.

Writers often spend months visiting the elder and interviewing the person's family and friends. The stories told are both of elders with accomplished careers and of those with more ordinary pasts, but each one carries a distinct fascination in the telling of a person's life and times.

In the opening chapter, writer Lilli Antonoff, who has been a caregiver and activities director during the past 20 years, says she became "a detective" in ferreting out the life details of her subject, Dr. Ruth Fleming. …

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