She didn’t have the room, nor the heart to throw them out.
But Dalia Gottlieb-Tanaka found the perfect spot in Vernon for some special artwork – one of her favourite downtown restaurants.
She donated several large pieces of personal art created by Vernon seniors to the walls of Raku Rice and Noodle Bar on 30th Avenue, to the delight of the restaurant’s co-owner Masako Manton.
“These are not like your regular paintings, they are unique,” said Manton. “A lot of people have been asking where they came from.”
They come from Gottlieb-Tanaka’s home, where she doesn’t have the room to store them.
“I’ve been going through all of the stuff I’ve collected and I live in a small apartment (in Vernon),” said Gottlieb-Tanaka. “I have this artwork and I knew it was the right thing for Raku. They are huge pieces and they fill up the walls of the restaurant.”
Backing up a few years before COVID, Gottlieb-Tanaka arrived in Vernon – her husband’s hometown - and opened an activity group for seniors at the Schubert Centre. She had been working in the field of aging, and studying dementia.
In 2005, she established the Society for the Arts in Dementia Care, conducting workshops around the world for healthcare providers to show how intellectual, cultural and physical activities can change the perception of dementia.
“Participants in the group are seniors of healthy cognition who understand the benefits of the creative arts that can lead to a better quality of life,” she said.
The program she developed won an award from the American Society on Aging.
The Creative Expression Activities Program for Older Adults gatherings were held at the Schubert Centre.
It was a program that supports the belief that creative activities are healthy for the brain source. Having seniors create paintings was just one of a variety of activities that also included poetry writing, storytelling and music appreciation.
Play writing and performing were later added, and a group was created called At This Age which turned writings into acting. The group did a radio play, and a play with a local high school class.
At This Age was formed in July 2013. The group opened to healthy older adults who wanted to keep their minds active through creative activities, and Gottlieb-Tanaka said she had about 200 seniors coming through her local program.
During the process new friendships were formed and the cohesiveness of the group grew stronger.