This community of Olathe retirees weathered the pandemic with up-and-coming artists | KCUR 89.3

Pat Pelot says she loves art, but never created any herself until recently.

“And so this is my attempt to try and see what I’m capable of,” she says. “And I don’t know what I’m capable of, but I’m enjoying this journey to find out.”

Pelot and her friend Judy Otey are among residents of an art room in Aberdeen Village, a seniors’ community in Olathe, Kansas, where art classes, such as a pencil drawing class, began in December after a two-year hiatus from COVID-19.

Getting 98 per cent of Aberdeen Village residents vaccinated was key to restarting classes.

“During the ups and downs of the pandemic, we weren’t always able to provide many of the activities and socializing opportunities we’ve provided in the past,” says General Manager Tim Allin.

But during the lockdown, locals like Pelot and Otey thought about trying new things.

Laura Spencer

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KCUR 89.3

Art instructor Barbara Krueger demonstrates shading techniques for Aberdeen Village residents Pat Pelot and Judy Otey.

“I’m sure I’m having fun doing this,” says Otey, who is a quilter. “We have learned a lot so far.”

“The combination of colors, the combination of different colors and tints and the different pressure on your pencils – this is all new to me,” Pelot says. “It’s just a great new experience to learn something that I love.”

And a little competition never hurts.

Aberdeen Village participates in the Art is Ageless program, shared with other Manors of Mid-America Presbyterian communities. In addition to art classes, music and drama events, and other educational opportunities, there is an annual art competition and exhibition.

Kay Ruen joined art classes in Aberdeen four years ago, with a two-year gap during COVID. For the contest, she submitted a pencil drawing titled “Ocelet Watching.”

“It’s on the endangered species list,” Ruen says of her subject. “I was just pretty taken with the wildcat, you know, looking like it was hunting and perched on a tree log.”

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Laura Spencer

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KCUR 89.3

Aberdeen Village resident Bonnie tries her hand at shading an apple with colored pencils during a Friday class.

The second floor, outside the dining hall, features some of the resident artwork from this year’s contest: drawings of butterflies, flowers, wildlife and resorts; a painting of the Flint Hills; a sunset photograph; a basket; a fuzzy striped cape; and a black and white quilt.

The exhibit is on view until April 29 for residents, with winners announced at a reception on May 2. The works will also be visible on Facebook.

“I think sometimes we don’t realize the meaning and impact of something like art,” says Allin. “You know, art just taps into what’s good about us. It taps into beauty, creativity. You can just see people getting lost in that.

He adds: “I see this as a very therapeutic endeavor for all of our residents and we want to continue to support this and hopefully grow it.”

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