Montecito Magazine Spring 2019

Surrounded by mountains, the sparkling sea, and a vibrant local art scene, Santa Barbara’s seniors are blessed with boundless inspiration for artistic pursuits. Best of all, the golden years are usually ripe with time to polish lifelong talents—or discover new ones. Residents of Santa Barbara’s retirement communities also enjoy the added bonus of well-equipped art facilities, special classes and community art shows. Most important, the mind-body benefits of creative activities are well documented. Research suggests that they stimulate the mind, improve hand-eye coordination and provide a sense of purpose and well-being, which leads to a happier, healthier life. Engaging in creative activities also enhances social connections through the sharing of ideas and common interests. Whether nurturing artistic skills or discovering new ways to express their creativity, Santa Barbara seniors are never too old to embrace their inner artist. Never Too Old Embracing The Inner Artist By Karen Hastings • Photography by Karen Hastings “ Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous .” – Bill Moyers Rich Untermann Rich Untermann, who with his wife Gail co- owns the Spanish Garden Inn boutique hotel in downtown Santa Barbara, paints every day, and his vibrant watercolors grace the walls of the hotel and other local venues around town. “It’s just so nice. You lose yourself when you paint,” he says. A former professor of urban design, Rich enjoys painting Santa Barbara street scenes. “I like places where people really connect with each other,” says Rich, and he especially appreciates it when people stop to chat while he paints. “It’s nice to engage,” he says. This social aspect of art is important for Rich. For eight years, he and his friend, Ron Freese, a former resident at Samarkand Retirement Community, met every week and painted together in different locations around Santa Barbara. “Ron was such an affable, wonderful, sweet man, and we started painting on Thursdays,” says Rich. “I would go to his house at 10:30, and we’d jump in his car and find a place that was plein air-oriented, with buildings and activity for me, and people for him... We did that every Thursday. It was an important part of our lives.” Sadly, Ron passed away earlier this year, but his colorful art lives on, and Rich treasures the memories of the time they spent painting together. “He just loved humor,” says Rich. “He painted many faces and groups of people. Ron found ways to get the character of people by exaggerating them a little bit.” Rich chuckles as he remembers some of the quirky characters who stopped to chat with them on the streets of Santa Barbara. In addition to the collaborative benefits of art, Rich believes being creative unlocks a unique 44 Montecito Magazine Spring–Summer 2019