Originally published in The Weekly Packet, August 1, 2019
Portrait painters meet for more than 40 years at Parker Ridge
by Cora Curtis
Every Wednesday morning at 9:30 sharp, residents of the Parker Ridge retirement community convene in the “activity room” with paints, brushes, pencils, and paper in tow. At the front of the room, that week’s model takes a seat and finds a comfortable position.
According to Alma Mote, Activities Director at Parker Ridge, the volunteer subject for the class is often a friend or family member of someone either working or residing at Parker Ridge.
The Wednesday portrait painting class is one of the many activities Mote has had a hand in coordinating during her career at the facility. Before arriving at the class, Alma pointed out a painting on the wall by a woman named Paula Emily Peer. “She was one of our pioneer residents,” said Mote; Peer is accredited with starting the painting group at Parker Ridge in the late 1970s and was a prolific painter herself.
The class is two hours long, punctuated by brief coffee breaks; the models takes those moments to stretch their legs. Ari Bernstein, indicated by Alma to be the most experienced painter in the class, says that he was introduced to painting in 1980 when he modeled for a class. The instructor encouraged him to come back as a student.
“I asked him ‘Where do I start?’ and he said, ‘Anywhere.’ That’s the last instruction I ever got,” he said. In the past, models have taken Bernstein’s portraits home with them.
Another person in attendance was Mary Martin, who has been painting for about 40 years and posits that “there’s no right way” to paint. Sitting beside Martin was Darrell McNatt, who knows how to put painting to practical use, creating art pieces with which he decorated his previously unadorned house. Sigrid Saradunn, the official timekeeper and announcer of coffee breaks, expressed a love of color, in particular “a pretty purple, not a dull purple” and lime green.
The portrait painting class is open to the public, and several of the residents in attendance said they would love to have people from the broader community outside of Parker Ridge participate in the class. It meets every Wednesday, from 9:30 to 11:30 at Parker Ridge in the activity room. Please bring your own art supplies. For more information call Mote at 374-2306.