Originally from Milledgeville, Georgia, 79-year-old Chapel Hill resident Gary Owens said his artistic career began while he was in middle school.
“Apparently I talked too much and distracted everybody,” Gary Owens said. “So they gave me paper and prints and things, and put me over in the corner so that I would be working and not disturbing everybody else.”
The Orange County Department on Aging is currently hosting an art exhibition at the Robert and Pearl Seymour Senior Center to feature works by Gary Owens. The exhibit began with a reception last Friday.
His daughter, Sarah Owens, said she remembers growing up around her father’s art. She recounted how her father made collages on her brown paper lunch bag every day before school, saying it made her feel special.
“Every day I'd go to school with a different scene to accompany me to school and it would be part of my lunch,” Sarah Owens said.
Seymour Center Program and Operations Manager Cydnee Sims said Gary Owens' art exhibition is part of an Orange County program that allows older adults to display their artwork.
“We're very fortunate that we have artists — people from the community reach out and say, 'Hey, I'm interested, I'm an artist and I would love to exhibit my work there,'” Sims said.
Sims added that giving senior citizens a platform to display their artwork gives them an opportunity to become more familiar with the services offered at the Seymour Center.
She explained that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many senior citizens stopped going to the center and only now are they slowly beginning to attend programs again.