Staying Vital As Time Marches On: Art Can Hold The Key
By Michael de Yoanna
Jun 10, 2015
Old age can be scary for some people. For others it is a time to shine. Starting this week on Colorado Matters, we're profiling Coloradans who offer insights about how they keep healthy and vital as they advance in years. For our first three guests, ages 82-102, art and creativity have proven to be the key.
Don M. Forst, who at 82 is the youngest of our three artists, was an architect in New York and then in Denver for four decades. That job only satisfied his creative impulses to a point. Painting fulfilled the rest, and it's where his passion now resides.
"If you enjoy painting and you let your imagination go, there's no limitation," he says. "You're not trying to satisfy other people; you're not trying to satisfy a market. You're painting for simply the love of painting."
Forst has also self-published a novel -- something he's never tied before. "The Reincarnation Of Vincent Van Gogh" is about an architect who is hit by a truck and becomes a master painter.
Sculptor Dorothy Tanner's work is best seen in the dark. That's because the 92-year-old works with light, using materials like plexiglass to bend and blend vibrant rays of color.
Now 92, she's been making art for more than 60 years. With her late husband, Mel Tanner, she added sound and music to the illuminated artwork, creating a psychedelic experience they called "Lumonics." The concept later found a home in trippy dance parties at a theater the couple opened in Miami.
Tanner now lives in Westminster and owns a studio in Denver. An exhibition of her work is on display through the end of the month at the Lakewood Cultural Center. She says she's never seriously considered retiring.
"I like playing with stuff,"Tanner says, "So why would I stop?"
Poet Lois Hayna is 102 years old and a recent recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Colorado Authors League. She lived dozens of years in Colorado Springs before moving last year to be with her granddaughter in Michigan.
Hayna remains active as a writer and often stays in touch with her colleagues via the Internet. We asked her to select and read a poem for us, but, because her eyesight is failing, Hayna opted to recite one from memory. The poem is entitled, "Last Will and Testament." The full version follows:
I am busy with decisions about who
should inherit which of my wordly goods
when an angel taps my shoulder
and says “Time to go.” Almost instantly
I feel lighter and a bit unsteady.
It’s clear that wings will need some
getting used to, they shift my balance
even as they fledge and they open
astonishingly fast. Just before take-off,
I tuck my laptop under the lengthening feathers
of my left wing. With all eternity on my hands,
those glittery streets and unchanging vistas
may well turn boring. I might even
finally settle in and finish that novel.
Then, hastily, I stow a handful of CDs
under the other wing. Harp-music’s okay
to a point, but it tends to be tinkly,
and played by hosts of eager but amateur
angels-in-training could well become
pretty hellish. I snatch up some Beethoven,
some Mahler, then I turn
to my somewhat impatient angel.
“Ready,” I say and we’re off.
We don’t look back.
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