leather jacketThings in life come in trends. Rarely is a particular thing in our lives a singular or unique event. Take for example my leather jacket. I bought this jacket over twenty years ago and at the time considered it to be a unique find. As I was wearing it that first Winter I saw many, many very similar leather jackets. From this I concluded that we do not have unique thoughts but are shaped by the zeitgeist of our times.

This is relevant as one of my friends made me aware of a new book published in my little rural town of Wimberley, TX (population around 2,500). Photographer Winifred Simon, in collaboration with 22 other women, ages 65-90 from Wimberley, Texas, created an interesting glimpse into the art of aging. The author feels that these spirited, active and inspirational women serve as role models for all ages. Each woman shares her story and wisdom through an autobiographical sketch and four environmental portraits.

This book seemed to be unique and one-of-a-kind in the notion of celebrating artistic lives among the elderly. It turns out that it is part of a trend. The old zeitgeist has caught me again. This time it’s not a disappointment, like my “unique” jacket, but a good thing. We seem now to be culturally aware of the productiveness of people who are over 70, over 80, over whatever, but no longer are the elderly perceived as “finished, kaput, etc.” or as William Butler Yeats wrote “An aged man is but a paltry thing / A tattered coat upon a stick” (Sailing to Byzantium, 1928).

A few other items of interest along the lines of aging artistically.

An earlier book was published in 2003. It’s called Aging Artfully by Amy Gorman. She profiles 12 women ages 85-105 who have led artistic lives. She later collaborated with Greg Young to develop a short documentary film, Still Kicking. This film profiles 6 elderly women artists in the San Francisco/Bay Area. The film explores the link between longevity and artistic vitality

An interesting NPR audio interview is available that talks about a book by Nicholas Delbanco, “Lastingness: The Art of Old Age.” This book explores the careers of famous artists who were productive into old age.

To close, I have a quote from David Galenson on age and creativity, “In dismissing age as a source of creativity, Lehman, Simonton, and many other psychologists were guilty of taking a part of creativity for the whole. Old age and experience may be lethal for the creativity of conceptual young geniuses, but they are the lifeblood of the innovations of experimental old masters.”

Like a fine old wine near the bottom of the barrel, creativity pours sweet and clear, they are all very good years*.

Join us for a real-time discussion about questions raised by this essay on Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.


  1. Delbanco, N. Lastingness: The Art Of Old Age. Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY, 2011. http://www.amazon.com/Lastingness-Art-Old-Nicholas-Delbanco/dp/B00B9ZP4T2
  2. Galenson, D. Old Age and Creativity in Art and Science. Huffington Post: Arts and Culture, Dec. 12, 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-galenson/old-age-and-creativity-in_b_2272877.html
  3. Gorman, A. Aging Artfully: Profiles of 12 Visual and Performing Women Artists 85-105. PAL Publishing, Berkely, CA, 2003. http://www.amazon.com/Aging-Artfully-Profiles-Performing-Artists/dp/0978519205 and http://www.agingartfully.com/
  4. Simon Flato, W. Wimberley Women: Perfecting the Art of Aging. 2nd Tier Publishing, Wimberley, TX, 2013. http://www.amazon.com/Wimberley-Women-Perfecting-Art-Aging/dp/0989464210
  5. Young, G. Still Kicking (2006) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0979949 and http://www.goldenbearcasting.com.
  6. NPR, All Things Considered, July 14, 2011. http://www.npr.org/2011/01/21/133117175/lastingness-the-creative-art-of-growing-old

* Apologies to Frank Sinatra (http://www.lyricsfreak.com/f/frank+sinatra/it+was+a+very+good+year_20056372.html)