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Mozarts of Maturity: Longevity is a Work of Art
Dr. David J. Demko, gerontologist and editor
AgeVenture News Service 08-28-06

Aging Artfully Still Kicking Longevity is not just about aging. For some, long life has become a work of art. Work that is truly a labor of love. The love of self-expression through the performing arts. Come meet these "Mozarts of Maturity".

Author, Amy Gorman shatters myths about maturity in her photo-documentary, "Aging Artfully". Gorman captures the boundless creative energy of twelve remarkable San Francisco Bay Area women, aged 85-105. Artisans all.

From tap dancer, Dorothy Takahashi Toy, 88, to sculptor and doll-maker Madeline Mason, 104, "Aging Artfully" captures every dimension of these inspirational lives. These "Mozarts of Maturity" illustrate the inexhaustible avenues of creative expression through the performing arts.

In a world full of negative aging images, "Aging Artfully" movingly documents the fact that old age can be a fulfilling time of creative expression and gratification. Loneliness and inactivity, long thought to be the destiny of great age, are nowhere to be found among the lives of these artisans.

"I am not a writer," Gorman confesses. "I completed this project to honor the stories of the extraordinary women I met." Through insightful oral histories, Gorman skillfully unfolds the life-long, creative process of each artist.

Readers are introduced to the following extraordinary women.
Lily Hearst, pianist at age 107.
Frances Catlett, painter at 97 years.
Ann Davlin, dancer at 95 years.
Mary Beth Washington, storyteller at 85.
Dorothy Takahashi Toy, tap dancer at 88.
Faith Petric, folk singer at 90.
Rosa Maria Morales Escobar, folklorico dancer at 82.
Grace Gildersleeve, rug braider at 94.
Elsie Ogata, Ikebana artist at 93.
Stella TooGood Cope, storyteller at 90.
Madeline Mason, Doll Maker and Sculptor at 104.
Isabel Ferguson, actor and painter at 89.

Gorman first became interested in aging as a young speech therapist serving patients at V.A. Hospitals. Later, as a medical social worker, she witnessed the devastating effects of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.

These experiences resulted in Gorman's leadership position as a board member of the Lifelong Medical Care's "Over 60 Clinic" serving Oakland, California. The Over 60 Clinic addressed the medical and social needs of the aged.

In 1982, the author founded "Kidshows", a non-profit agency which introduces children to the arts, live theater, music, dance and storytelling. During Gorman's 18-year tenure as Executive Director, the agency's artisans their concerns about growing older, and the fear that their aging process might cut short their ability to perform.

"Aging Artfully" documents the author's revelations about the continuing promise of mature artisans. Readers will be delighted to find included with the book, composer Frances Kandl's CD, "Songs of 7 Women's Lives." "Still Kicking", a heart-warming companion to "Aging Artfully" illustrates the capable work of film maker Greg Young. Via DVD format, Young explores the lives of six of mature artists.

"Aging Artfully" and "Still Kicking" are available from Partners West, Baker & Taylor, San Francisco Bay Area bookstores, and
Image Credits: Golden Bear Casting.