The Art of Aging
by Alice & Richard Matzkin

Sentient publications, 2009. ISBN 978-1-591-81081-0.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 06/21/2009

Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration; Nonfiction: Creative Life; Nonfiction: Elders

A glorious gathering of older beings, sculpted and painted, with and without clothing by an artist couple in the process of examining their own aging process. Not all of the figures are shown is a flattering light, rather, the realities of wrinkles and folds might make the viewer/reader more comfortable with his or her own aging body.

The Art of Aging is divided into several sections with beginning essays, most written by either Alice or Richard while sharing their art to illustrate their concerns. "Artists must love their creations into being... So it is with creating a beautiful old age. It takes vision, dedication and constant attention." Alice, who has portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, writes and portrays "Women of Age: Portraits of Wisdom, Beauty, & Strength" in which she shares not only wise women but those of unusual athletic ability as well. Alice paints women across a wide spectrum of life.

Richard follows with "Naked Old Men," an essay and photos of organic sculptures. Some are hard to view, just as the reality of becoming very old is hard to view. I especially responded to "Death Bed," in which the dead man is in the process of metamorphosis and becoming dust once more. Alice's "Naked Truth" follows with older, often large women often joyfully displaying their truth. Richard follows with sculptures of "Lovers," all older and all loving.

More art and essays with the theme of aging and dying follow, but this is an uplifting book. I especially enjoyed "Becoming Elders," written by both Alice and Richard. "The message is very clear...We are being called upon to turn within and focus more on our soul. Our final destination is spirit..." These artists/lovers have shared their art and their love for many years. Here they also share their fears and the beginning of their coming to terms with their changing bodies and relationship.

Alice Matzkin has painted most ofher life and has 2 paintings in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery. Richard Matzkin is a sculptor, musician, therapist and writer. He has had numerous one-man shows.

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