Last fall, the New York Times Magazine devoted an issue to aging and the so-called “Fountain of Youth.” Various issues were explored from how technology can keep aging minds nimble to how one gets better with age. I am not sure if there are really sure-fire ways to fight aging rather than to go gently with the flow and follow where our natural aging process takes us. Yes, go gently but with a lot of sass, attitude, and adventure.
Right around the time I saw this Times Magazine issue is when I discovered artist Henrietta Mantooth in Woodstock, NY, where her gigantic paintings and installations were being shown at the Kleinert/James Art Center. There was something raw and passionate in her paintings that caught my attention. Intrigued, I asked the gallery staff about the artist and found out that Henrietta is in her 80’s and is still very active in creating and exhibiting her paintings.
Though Henrietta is now mainly based in the general New York area, she lived in Latin America for 18 years where she learned Spanish and Portuguese. Quite a change from her childhood in Missouri! What I find impressive about Henrietta is not only her endless dedication to her craft but also the sense of adventure that permeates through her work. I think that these are traits critical in aging successfully and gracefully.
At the end of her bio page on her site, Henrietta says about her art, “Accept the unexpected and the surprise of the accidental and choose discovery over perfection every time.” Perfectly imperfect — those are the words I’d like to live by for the rest of my life.