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At Monarch Landing, Everyone’s an Artist

Art display

Some people are born artists; others are artists waiting to be born. Both are at Monarch Landing senior living community Naperville, where seasoned and newly discovered talents can flourish. Any day of the year, a stroll down the gallery along the community’s first-floor hallway allows both residents and visitors a look at the various paintings, drawings, photos and other art forms created by those who live at Monarch Landing. And the annual art and craft show and sale, this year on July 16, is the crowning touch on all things artistic among residents and staff.

“The art and craft show remains one of my favorite events. I love how the residents come out and support their friends and neighbors,” said Monarch Landing lifestyle manager Sherry DeFillippo. “My favorite part is when you hear a resident say to a participant, ‘I didn’t know you did this type of work. This is amazing!'” Indeed, “amazing” is not too strong a word to describe the beautiful, inspired work of residents who are encouraged to hone their skills or explore new creative pursuits at Monarch Landing.

“There are a lot of gifted people here!” said resident Greg Zimmerman, who is in the community’s wood shop several times a week working on a stunning replica of Lord Nelson’s sailing ship, the HMS Victory. Zimmerman has been building the model for the past two and a half years and expects to complete it in another year’s time. It is one of eight ships the craftsman and history buff has constructed throughout his life. “When prospective residents come through, I explain to them what an ideal outlet Monarch Landing is for people to express themselves creatively,” he said.

Of pastel artist Doris Bettin’s studio in the Monarch Landing apartment, DeFillippo says “It’s to die for!” A member of two art leagues and DeFillippo’s partner in establishing the community’s art gallery three years ago, Bettin has earned awards for her city/landscapes, florals and portraits. Her work has been on display in several places across Chicagoland, in all her children’s homes, and one fellow resident of Monarch Landing commissioned her to paint a watercolor of a family estate in Ireland.

Currently, two of Bettin’s paintings deck the walls of Monarch Landing; the generous artist also gives small floral paintings to residents who have experienced a loss, a life transition or undergone surgery. “I really enjoy giving them a piece I created just for them,” she said.

For Kate Carmichael, painting was not on her radar before moving to Monarch Landing 10 years ago. Enrolling in an appropriately named class called “Everyone’s an Artist” inspired the resident whose mother and grandmother were painters to try her hand at it too. Turns out, she’s a very good acrylic painter and has bought her own painting supplies to continue her hobby outside of the class. She even organized a group of residents to take a drawing class in Monarch Landing’s art studio. “It’s wonderful to see our own residents’ talents displayed at Monarch Landing. We’re all pretty pleased with ourselves!” she quipped.

Resident Carol Schultz’ art form, photography, was inspired by a camera her husband once bought her. Her passion for pictures, particularly nature shots, earned her a first-place win in a photo contest at Monarch Landing, where abundant butterflies make for likely subjects. Her photo of a Monarch butterfly hangs above the fireplace in the Millstone Lounge, and at the art and craft show, the greeting cards she creates from her photographs are popular purchases. “Some residents are my regular customers,” said Schultz. “It’s a fun hobby, and I hope when prospective residents stop by, they think ‘I can do my thing here, too.'”