Senior center mural artist is young at heart

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jackie Young's name says it all.

She is a very young 80-year-old with multiple talents, including an amazing artistic ability. To see one of her paintings, you just have to enter the Putnam County Senior Center in downtown Greencastle.

Young recently completed a colorful wall mural featuring a garden gate and multitude of flowers.

If you stroll through the center, you will find more evidence of her artistic ability. There is a framed painting in the front room and more murals on the walls in the children's room of the community store.

There you can see a large clown, elephant, girl with a snake and a garden fence adorning each wall.

Young grew up in Montgomery County and began painting flowers at the age of 8. By high school her work was being exhibited by her art teacher.

She went to work at RR Donnelly in Crawfordsville right after high school. In her free time she worked for a local photographer doing touch-ups on portraits.

"Those were the days before they did it on a computer. I did it all by hand," said Young.

She also took a few art lessons from an art instructor at Wabash College. Mostly, she will tell you, she just loves to paint.

"I paint because I like to do it. I'd like to do it the rest of my life," she said.

Young teaches art classes at the Senior Center and has even sold some of her paintings. Center director Jim Stevens bought a painting of red poppies that he claims to have hanging in his smoking room.

"Jackie is a real gem. She does so many things. Besides painting she also works in the children's area of the community store," he said.

On a recent afternoon, Young was busy at the center sewing a teddy bear to go in one of the many bags of toys she puts together to give away to kids in need. Last year she put together over 300 bags of age-appropriate toys for the kids' room at the center.

Artistic talent seems to run in Young's family. Her grandson Ryan Young had ceramic pieces on display at Greencastle High School last semester.

Her youngest daughter, Mary Ann Johnson, has added her mark at the Senior Center with several of her own pieces. She painted a large family tree of senior members in the front office, as well as small mural of a man and woman in heart above the doorway at the center.

Young has two other daughters, one of whom has an art degree from Hanover and teaches, and one who went to nursing school in Terre Haute.

Her son works for DePauw University.

Then there is her husband Dave.

He is a familiar face at the senior center and at Putnam County Hospital. Until he broke his arm recently, he was driving seniors who needed rides and pushing the wheelchair bound at the hospital.

"We've just always volunteered. It's how we stay young. Everybody knows Dave," said Young.

She started out working with Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) back in the 1970s.

"I worked at the chamber watering plants. They had a ficus tree that I kept watering and the water kept running out. I finally figured out it was a fake tree," laughed Young.

She also worked at the junior high school baking cookies, and volunteered at Hickory Creek at Sunset.

She can usually be found at the senior center on Tuesday afternoons and Fridays.

"I've been spending more time at the center since Dave broke his arm. We've been here almost every day, but every once in a while I have to do my own housework so I stay home," said Young. "But I think I'll keep on volunteering forever. And, painting. I love to paint."

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    -- Posted by Michele1953 on Sat, Jun 14, 2008, at 8:54 AM
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