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The Age of Art: Seniors Display Sculptures at Winnetka Library

North Shore Senior Center sculptors present their 5th Annual Figurative Sculpture Exhibit at the Winnetka Public Library.

High Renaissance painter and sculptor Benvenuto Cellini once said, “The difference between painting and sculpture is as great as the difference between a shadow and the object casting it.”

It's an observation Ray Ewing, a retired Northwestern University journalism professor, has kept in mind since he first started sculpting at the in 1993. Ewing, and over 20 other sculptors from the center, comprise a group of seniors who felt their work needed a little more attention than it was recieving. 

The groups artwork is now on display through September 30 at the Winnetka Public Library, during the center's 5th Annual Figurative Sculpture Exhibit—with works by a retired TV news editor, stockbroker and manufacturing executive, all from the north shore area.

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Why, you might ask, would someone choose to sculpt after a life of, seemingly, different ambitions?

“When I was in graduate school, at the University of Chicago in 1941...I discovered that I was good at clay sculpting,” Ewing recalled. “I never noticed that before.”

A Sculpting Community

Other artists who've exhibited sculptures with the group include a Chicago Sun-Times cartoonist, an art director for Leo Burnett Group and veterans of World War II, including Ewing, and the Korean War.

“We had an architect a few years back, and we have another architect now,” Ewing said of the ever-rotating cast of sculptors, who meet each Friday morning to mold their works. “We have different people from different backgrounds.”

Occasionally, age plays a factor in creative output: A sculptor in her 90s recently had a heart attack, so she may not exhibit her work until the exhibit is moved to the , Ewing said, from October 1 to November 1.

“When you look at a piece of sculpture,” Ewing continued, “it's only one statement of time. You've got to illuminate something [as a sculptor]. Your job is not to indoctrinate, and you really can't do much educating...”

From classical nudes to humorous depictions of everyday life, the exhibit is made-up of figurative, terracotta sculptures, Ewing noted, not abstract ones.

“'I don't take myself seriously, but I take sculpting seriously,'” he quoted from another artist. “That's true of all of us in the group. We take sculpting seriously—we work at it.”

The exhibit is free and on display at the Winnetka Public Library. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday. For more information, contact the library at 847-446-7220, or email WPL director David Seleb at david@winnetkalibrary.org.

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