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Seniors | Elders let their inner artist shine in Danville exhibition

Fifty years ago, Maher Salama enjoyed swimming and rowing, followed by dinner with his wife on the river bank.

His graphite and watercolor painting recalling that scene is one of many on display in “Discovering the Artist Within,” an exhibition at the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living in Danville, where Salama resides.

The 14th annual exhibition reflects the talents of residents who participate in the facility’s award-winning arts program, under the direction of full-time artist-in-residence Betty Rothaus.

The largest piece in the show, a portrait by Rhoda Wasserman, is a graphite and oil-on-canvas panel. Creating art, Wasserman says, “is a matter of making a good choice, working it through and coming to a completion.”

The smallest piece in the show is a 5-inch sculpture by Harriet Rotman, a resident who only recently began using the art room.

Michie Takashima painted “Seafoam Crest,” a landscape representing a composite of her memories of the California coast. “We used to go to Pescadero Beach when we were youngsters, where we watched the waves come in over the rocks, felt the wind and frolicked in the water chasing the waves,” she says.

Ruth Janger began her painting without knowing what it would look like when finished. As she progressed, she felt she “needed more” and remembered her mother saying, “Don’t look for the gold, you’ll find it. The gold will always be there.”

Now, she says, “I know this image was in my mind all the time.” She named her work “All That Glitters Is Not Gold.”

Rothaus meets several times a week with interested residents, individually and in groups, including those in the memory care units. “Everyone does their own thing,” Rothaus says. “I try to help them clarify and realize their vision, and what they want to do.”

Participants come to the program with a range of skill levels, from lifelong artists to those “who remember doing art as children,” according to Rothaus.

“People benefit so much from making art,” she adds. “It is expression; they learn a new visual language, develop skills in composition and color. It gives them so much to think about outside of any problems they may have. It is positive and healthy and something to look forward to.”

The show is a major event for the senior community, according to Reutlinger CEO Jay Zimmer. In addition to the exhibition, artwork — much of it done by residents — is permanently displayed throughout the building.

“Discovering the Artist Within” is on display through 2015 in the main building, located at 4000 Camino Tassajara, Danville. For more information, call (925) 964-2034 or email betty.rothaus@gmail.com.