Enrichment Center's Art Show Enriches Visitors
Attention to local art flows from the movement to produce and shop locally.
The public has an opportunity to view and purchase works by Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy artists at an ongoing exhibition at the Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment.
Sculpture, photography, and various types of paintings represent Elfie Harris, Sol and Judy Levy, Barbara Rosin, Amy Morrissey and Debs Bleicher. With comfortable abstracts in oil and animal portraiture, cityscapes, still life, landscapes and sunsets, vibrant colors and black and white, whimsical and pensive pieces, "there's something for everybody," according to Sue Davis, Assistant Director for the Center for Enrichment, which offers programs and services to area residents 50 years of age and older.
The majority of the exhibitors have been professional artists for decades. They're members of the Northwest Artists Collaborative and the Mt. Airy Art Garage, and participate in the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST). Their backgrounds reflect their training at the likes of the Fleisher Art Memorial, the University of Pennsylvania and Tyler School of Art, not to mention participation in fellowships and artist residencies abroad. Several have taught or continue to teach their profession. This particular show was curated by Sol Levy, who worked with Davis in obtaining and presenting over 50 items, already matted and framed or mounted.
Since Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment was founded in 1978, the organization has shed several previous names, and relocated both physically and under different fiscal sponsorship. The nonprofit organization offers lectures, classes, movies, trips and other activities Monday through Friday to enrich the lives of older adults in the area, and to promote wellness and a sense of community, said Executive Director Mary Zell.
The center's approximately 220 members participate in daily offerings like bridge, yoga classes, Italian lessons and Tai Chi. Men turn out in relative strength at the history programs, Zell said. She described enthusiasm and camaraderie among participants, warmly welcoming walk-ins and nonmembers.
Most classes and events take place at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, a few blocks up Germantown Avenue from the Center's home base at 8431 Germantown Avenue. The church dedicates its renovated "Center on the Hill" for community programming to serve older adults.
"This is a huge help," Zell said, noting the space is a welcome addition to the smaller office, which hosts the center's art exhibition, in addition to a Monday morning craft group.
The unofficial but acknowledged leader of the craft group is professional artist Val Whitlock. A graduate of Moore College of Art and Design in Center City, Whitlock's specialty in fashion illustration morphed into advertising, which then flourished in crafts. Long-time Chestnut Hill shoppers may remember her paintings on gift cards and children's furnishings when Robertson's had a children's department. Some of her work is also carried by Happy Butterfly, located along Germantown Avenue.
The craft group produces decorative pillowcases for cancer patients, bags for wheelchairs and walkers, and treats to accompany Meals on Wheels' deliveries. Sachet bags, baby bibs, animal hangings and other gifts are marketed at craft bazaars as fundraisers for the work of the Center.
"It's a wonderful social group," the 83-year-old Whitlock commented, momentarily pausing the group's lively discussion about rescue dogs.
"We're all busy people having a great time," said another participant, before returning to a conversation about dinner guests.
Annie Jones Hayes said she discovered Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment about three years ago while taking a walk. She went in to see what it was all about. Hayes has been attending the craft group, movie showings and speaker events ever since.
"I love it," she said.
The art show will run weekdays through Dec. 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sales benefit the center and artists.
To learn more, visit www.chenrichment.org or call 215-248-0180.