If you haven’t been to The Gallery at the Fifth before, now is the time to visit.
More than 20 Fifth Avenue Retirement Center residents and two staff members will share their artwork during the annual show Jan. 6-31. The exhibit is open to the public and can be viewed between 9 a.m.-5 p.m., seven days a week.
While the artwork isn’t for sale, much can be gained.
“Some people have a bad image of what it’s like to live in a retirement facility but the residents have valuable insight and talent to share,” said Jan Nelson, activities director. “These are people who have lived their entire lives and have so many experiences to share. They’re not just ‘old’ people living in a ‘home,’ they are seniors — people probably older than most of the guests visiting — sharing their work and who they are.”
Doris Cromwell, 84, chose to display her needlepoint wall hangings and pillows of cats and lighthouses. Cromwell started the hobby at just 4 years old and remembers her mother saying, “You’re going to ruin your eyes!” Later, as an adult, Cromwell said she’d sneak downstairs early in the morning to work on her needlepoint projects. Around 5 a.m., her husband would call out, “Breakfast!” Then, he’d call out a second time an hour later.
“It is so interesting to see it take shape,” Cromwell said about needlepoint. “I love to do it and I always have. It’s relaxing.”
Virginia Stoltz, known by her friends as “Ginny,” spent more than 30 years teaching third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. Despite graduating high school during the Depression and being forced to put off college, Stoltz went on to earn her master’s degree in teaching. Even though she turns 98 this February, Stoltz continues to take pleasure in helping others learn. Her display in the show is an educational embroidery piece about aircraft, combining a lifelong passion for education and her time spent in the service.
Alice and Tom Garrett are an artistic duo. He uses a background in mechanical design to create custom patterns and she sews the blocks together into quilts. Each quilt takes months to complete from start to finish, in one case an entire year. The Garretts have been married 65 years and enjoy working side by side day in and day out.
“It gives us something to do together,” Tom Garrett said.
“Plus, the quilts are nice to look at,” Alice Garrett added, “although what we finish doesn’t usually sit around for long before we give it to one of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren or foster children.”
Talent aside, the artists themselves are what make the show so interesting, according to Nelson, who said she enjoys getting to know each of the residents on a personal level.
“Each person is unique and has had a wonderful life,” she said. “They all have very different backgrounds and you can’t believe how wonderful the entire group is until you sit down and start to talk to them.”
The Fifth Avenue Retirement Center has been owned and operated by the Littlejohn family since its establishment in 1986. Located on the shared campus with Sherwood Assisted Living, the Fifth Avenue offers private studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments with patios and balconies and a variety of floor plans.
Residents have the freedom of a month-to-month rental agreement with the added lifestyle of comfort, security and independence. Amenities on site include a full-service dining room, beauty salon, housekeeping and linen service, transportation to appointments and a comprehensive activities and exercise program.
Private tours are available upon request.
The Gallery at the Fifth features ever-changing displays of local artists’ work, allowing residents the opportunity to enjoy professional artwork without leaving the house. Every year, January is dedicated to the residents and staff members.
For more information, go online to www.thefifthavenue.com.