PLEASANT HILL -- As a longtime member of the Pleasant Hill Senior Center, Walter Crew was thrilled when the new center opened in January 2013.
But like several other senior center members, Crew knew something was missing.
"When I walked into the new senior center over a year ago and looked at some of the bare walls there, these walls cried out to me," he said. "I felt that it was telling me that it needed some good artwork in some areas where the walls were bare." So Crew talked with members of his art group, the East Bay Artists Guild (EBAG) and with the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District. After a long process that included meetings and proposals, the deed was done -- EBAG is the first art group to show work at the new senior center.
To celebrate, the group will host a reception from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 20. EBAG members hope the exhibit can help create a bridge between older artists and younger ones.
Walnut Creek artist Aissa Markey is no stranger to introducing art to young students, having been an elementary school art teacher for 14 years. She was once a young artist herself.
"Elementary school age children are so eager to create," said Markey, who works primarily in mixed media and collage. "Teaching them art elements and design principles with hands-on projects helps them with fine motor, visual-spatial skills, problem solving and exploration. This benefits the student without them realizing it. Seeing their joy when they have created something they love truly benefits me."
Elizabeth Kennen was also a child artist who always had paper and pencil on hand for sketching. Many years were spent enjoying graphite and colored pencil, making detailed drawings of nature and then discovering a love for architecture. Since support and encouragement for artistic endeavors came naturally from growing up in a creative household, Kennen draws from her own experience to teach with Young Rembrandts of the East Bay.
Kennen credits seeing EBAG's display at Crescent Plaza in Pleasant Hill five years ago for getting her back to making art after taking a break. Kennen gives major kudos to Crew for getting the group to display art in the senior center.
"Pleasant Hill doesn't have an actual gallery, so this shows that a lot of places can turn into a gallery," said Kennen, adding that senior centers' non-intimidating environment helps draw people of all ages.
"It's a great place for the community to come together to see art," Kennen said. "A portion of proceeds from sales of artwork go to the senior center."
Fifteen artists and 19 paintings are featured in the current show, which runs through Sept. 26.
"Hopefully, the reaction from the public is so positive that we can continue to fill more spaces that are crying out for art," Kennen said.