Healing in art: On Lok seniors exhibit their work – San Jose Mercury News.

Many artists devote their entire life to their work but never get the chance to exhibit it. After living much of their lives, the work of more than 30 seniors from On Lok Lifeway’s Fremont campus will be on display at Mission Coffee Roasting Co. through August. The artists themselves will take a field trip to view it and be on hand to discuss their work during the opening day reception 1 to 1:45 p.m. Monday, Aug. 1

“The show will be a summary of the artwork we do with On Lok Lifeway’s participants,” said Jen Mank, recreation therapist.

She said all the artwork, which will include canvas paintings, masks, scarves and other textiles, was created over a two-year span of creative expression, exploration and development during art therapy classes held at the center.

“We believe that there’s healing in art,” Mank said.

She has lived this herself.

“I’ve been an artist all my life. It centers me,” Mank said. “… For me I think it was always more fluent than words.”

She has focused on mediums like watercolor, oil paint, ceramics and mechanical drawing while Jenn Vickers, a recreation leader who runs the art program with Mank, is an accomplished weaver and textile artist.

“I think it’s offering them an avenue to express themselves,” said program manager Janice Fujii.

Mank and Vickers were leading art directive programs Monday at the center. During one session, seniors were given calendar pages with nature pictures to replicate in watercolor form.

In addition to the creative expression, Mank said being involved in the arts at On Lok helps participants there socially by building their confidence, creating community and making friends.

Sister Noel Lehmann was seen waiting for her paint to dry on the paper before putting on the next layer. She said it has been nice to have a chance to express herself through the program, adding art enhances people’s lives.

For that reason, Lehmann added, it is sad to see it disappearing.

“I think they should put arts back in the schools,” she said.

Because not all children learn the same way or are interested in math or science, Lehmann said, “it’s a disadvantage.”

She will likely have three painted images, including acrylic on wood and canvas and tempera on canvas, on display at the On Lok exhibit.

Anita Arora, sitting nearby Lehmann Monday, was creating a large, colorful representation of a flower head with watercolor. But she said her passion for art comes in crocheting and knitting, which she began when her mother taught her many years ago as a child.

Arora is expected to have nine knitted items and one painted image on display at the exhibit. She said it is nice to be a part of the show, although she went through a similar experience through the On Lok facility in San Francisco more than three years ago.

“I love it,” she said of On Lok, which she has been a part of for 10 years total.

On Lok Lifeways Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in the early 1970s by a group of citizens concerned about the plight of elders and the lack of long-term living options. Now, several decades later, it serves seniors through a comprehensive health plan known as Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, PACE, that provides long-term care for eligible seniors living in San Francisco, Fremont, Newark, Union City and Santa Clara County (not including Gilroy, Morgan Hill or San Martin). The health plan includes full medical care, prescription drugs, home care, adult day health, transportation as well as additional services like the art program offered through recreational therapy.

“The goal of On Lok is to keep seniors lives as normal as possible,” said enrollment specialist Johara Arduz.

The art show will be on display at Mission Coffee Roasting Co., located at 151 Washington Blvd. For more information about store hours, call 623-6920. For more information about the show or On Lok’s Fremont location, call 828-2529 or visit onlok.org.

Contact Shannon Barry at sbarry@themilpitaspost.com or 408-262-2454. Visit us on our social media sites at facebook.com/milpitas post and twitter.com/milpitaspost.