Based on Amy Gorman’s interviews, Aging Artfully portrays the lives of 12 vibrant women in the visual and performing arts, all in their ninth decade and beyond, living with zest. They are living in the San Francisco Bay Area, coming from diverse ethnic backgrounds: Frances Catlett, painter; Elsie Ogata, ikebana artist; Isabel Ferguson, actor and visual artist; Lily Hearst, pianist; Grace Gildersleeve, rug braider; Ann Davlin (aka Grace Lowell), dancer; Mary Beth Washington (aka Orunamama), storyteller: Rosa Maria Morales Escobar, folklorico dancer; Madeleine Mason, sculptor; Dorothy Takahashi Toy, dancer; Faith Petric, folksinger; Stella Toogood, storyteller.
The audiobook honors the rich creativity of aging and challenges popular negative attitudes and perceptions toward being old. The audiobook suggests reasons why arts activities are ideal ways to increase health in the last stages of life. The positive role models portrayed are still completely engaged with and in love with their art forms. They have no time for complaining.
Whether you call it healthy aging, creative aging, aging gracefully, successful aging or just plain aging well, the women artists in the book are exemplary role models for all of us. Frances Kandl, friend and musician, introduced Gorman to Lily Hearst, almost 105, who became the first interviewee. Then Gorman met Greg Young, a Boomer just in retirement from UC Berkeley. He had recently finished a documentary of the eccentric Mary Beth Washington, a storyteller on the Aging Artfully cover, and he was ready for his next film. Still Kicking emerged as a film which follows 6 of the 12 women in the book all over 90. It’s now available on DVD and as one male viewer described it, “I’ll never look at an old woman the same way again. You never know what’s behind that face.”
Amy’s interest in reminiscence and life review grew as a result of her interviews with aging women artists who were all aging creatively and aging gracefully. She is facilitating Guided Autobiography Writing Groups for those with and without experience in the process of life review.
Aging Artfully is the synthesis of Amy Gorman’s experience working with aging and in the arts. Her work as a medical social worker with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients led to her service as a board member in the San Francisco Bay Area at Lifelong Medical Care/Over 60 Clinic, which addresses the medical and social needs of the aged.
Amy founded Kidshows in 1982, a non-profit arts organization, to introduce children to the arts, live theater, music, dance and storytelling. During her 18 years as its Executive Director, the professional performers she worked with shared many concerns about getting older and whether or not they could continue earning a living in their chosen art form. Learn more about the history of Kidshows in the archive collection held at The Bancroft Library at University of California at Berkeley.
She lives with her husband, George, in Berkeley – says she married him because of his resonant voice, also because he keeps her laughing. Their two adult sons, Ari and Phil, both professional musicians, live in the Bay Area.
Besides hanging out with women artists over 85 — all aging gracefully, aging positively, and aging creatively — and shmoozing with many friends, she likes to sculpt ceramic heads, play tennis, travel and play with her grandchildren. She is a member of LPN, the Life Planning Network, APH, the Association of Personal Historians, WNBA, the Women’s National Book Assn, and BAIPA, Bay Area Independent Publisher’s Association.
For more about Amy Gorman check out her website at: http://agingartfully.com/