Residents of the Sunrise Assisted Living Center in Fair Oaks told the staff they wanted to put on an art show. On Sept. 1, the staff organized an art show as part of the center's monthly Family Night, featuring pieces from about 20 residents, ice cream sundaes and a harpist.
“Right away, some residents decided to teach others to paint, so they started what they call the ‘Starving Artists’ club,” said Vikki Jones, activities and volunteer coordinator at the center. Five or six residents meet about once a month to work on fabric and toile paintings.
Another group of residents, calling themselves “The Nighttime Needleworkers” meet to work on their knitting, needlepoint or other skills, Jones said.
The staff decided to have the art show on Family Night, a monthly event at which family members of the residents are invited to come to the center to have dinner and enjoy entertainment with their loved ones, Jones said.
“The residents are really proud of their work, and it seemed like the perfect time to have it,” she said.
Resident Belle Bregman brought down a blue and yellow afghan that she had knitted.
“I started knitting when I was 9 years old,” said Bregman, who had to stop knitting about a year and a half ago when she began to lose her vision.
“I came from Warsaw, Poland, when I was 8-years old,” she said. A baby was on the boat that Bregman and her family immigrated to the United States on, and she wanted to make something to keep the baby warm in the cold of New York City.
“I went to the lady at the knitting store on the corner and asked if she’d teach me how to knit,” she said. “I’ve been knitting ever since.”
Bregman, 90, said that she has made “dozens and dozens” of sweaters, afghans, scarves and hats for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“I was very happy to finish a product and give it to someone in my family,” she said.
She has also made yarmulkes for her grandsons and granddaughters Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. “I can’t even guess how many I made” she said with a laugh.
NOW THAT Bregman is unable to knit, she likes to listen to the radio to pass the time, in addition to participating in the weekly Newsflash activity, where residents gather to discuss world events.
“God took my sight, but He kept my mind going,” she said.
Esther Evans contributed several paintings and a doll that she made, to the art show.
“I started painting 15 years ago when I was with a group of people who were painting,” she said. “I love to paint. It gives me something to do.”
Of the three paintings Evans brought, her favorite was a still life of flowers.
“It’s one of my first ones,” she said. “I brought it down from my room.”
Evans also had a painting of the Parthenon, which she painted from a postcard. “I’ve been there,” she said, “but I didn’t paint the picture when I went.”
Charlie Hubbard decided to share a painting his wife made for him based on a house he designed and built in Potomac.
“She made this painting from my architectural drawing,” he said.
Hubbard also brought down a photograph taken of the house when it was completed. and the painting was a perfect rendition of the finished project.
His wife, Dawn Hubbard, passed away in 1995 “after 54 wonderful years of marriage,” he said. The granddaughter of a Cherokee princess, she would often tease him about being royalty that he needed to appease.
Hubbard said that he has a degree in civil engineering. He used to be a partner in an architectural engineering firm in Houston but moved to the area with his wife sometime later.
“One of the ladies who works here saw this picture in my room and wanted to bring it down,” he said.
Harold “Hal” Wood, a longtime resident of Sunrise, brought a collection of pictures he cross-stitched, to the art show.
“In 1965, I had an accident with a lawn mower,” he said, which resulted in the loss of his right leg. He took up cross-stitching as a hobby while he was recovering.
“I really enjoy it,” he said. “A merchant marine taught me how to do it. I was impressed with his work, so he showed me."
Among Wood's pieces at the show were replicas of a Norman Rockwell scene and a Courier and Ives scene.
“I think the Courier and Ives is my favorite,” Wood said. “It’s so detailed.”
WOOD ALSO brought an apron that he made for a woman who was part of his Good Sam’s camping club several years ago.
“She was a big woman, and people in the club kept picking on her, so she asked me to make this for her,” he said. The phrase on the apron goes “God must love fat people because he made so many of us.”
Reed Jarrell, director of community relations at Sunrise, said this was the first art show the center has had.
“It surprised us all,” he said of the talented residents.
“All week, they’ve been excited,” he said. “We’re real glad of the turnout and family members who came out and supported their families.”