This year’s Art is Ageless® program at Wichita Presbyterian Manor doubled as a reunion between an artist and a collector of his work.
Mark Ward is a two-time people’s choice winner in the local art competition, a program of PMMA (Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America). Art is Ageless recognizes the talents of artists age 65 or older. Winners in the local competition go on to be judged at the systemwide level, and winners are featured in the annual Art is Ageless® calendar and notecards.
This year, Mark reconnected with Jan Anderson, a resident of the Assisted Living neighborhood. When Jan downsized from a house to her current apartment, she brought two of Mark’s paintings with her.
“In a small space, you really have to enjoy it” to hang something on the wall, Jan said. “I don’t think I’ll ever tire of looking at them.”
Jan first saw Mark’s work at a church art sale. She bought one of his landscape paintings as a housewarming gift for her daughter and son-in-law after they purchased a home in Wichita’s Reflection Ridge neighborhood.
Mark said the day Jan bought his painting was the first time he had showed his work in public.
“Talk about nervous,” he said.
When Jan moved into a new home several years ago, she couldn’t find art she liked as well as the painting she had purchased as a gift. Her son-in-law discovered that Mark had work exhibited in a Wichita gallery, and Pat bought two of his paintings there.
One painting depicts a forest that reminds Jan of some of the scenery she observed on her four trips to India. If you look closely, you can see a bird nearly hidden in one of the trees. These small details are part of what draws Jan to Mark’s work.
A mountain stream runs through her other Mark Ward piece.
“It relaxes me to look at them,” Jan said.
Life Enrichment Director Amy Watson connected Jan with Mark, whom she met when she talked to members of the Kansas Artists Guild about the Art is Ageless program. Amy arranged for the two to meet when Mark dropped off his work for the competition.
Mark hopes to make good on a promise to make another painting for Jan.
Now that he’s retired, the artist is focusing on painting full time. His work can be seen at Gallery 12, 2903 E. Douglas Avenue.
“The thing that got me into painting while I was working in the commercial world was the knowledge I was going to retire,” Mark said. “There’s a saying, ‘artists never retire, they just have more time to paint.’”