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Ageless Creativity Celebrated at the Fountains

'We are still very vital. The interest is still there. Instead of vegetating in an old folks home, you are able to fulfill something within yourself.' – 86-year-old Artist Mary Wilder Paul.

Creating studio art, conversing in French, penning memoirs, and trying  paddleboarding are among the 70 lifelong learning and enrichment opportunities at The Fountains at Lake Pointe Woods, said Community Life Director Kathy Hallock.

No, The Fountains is not community college for seniors. It is just one of the more innovative examples of independent living residences for seniors in southwest Florida.

As seniors and caregivers consider selling the family home or pondering next steps, independent living residences often are the answer.

'We are still very vital. The interest is still there. Instead of vegetating in an old folks home, you are able to fulfill something within yourself,' said Artist Mary Wilder Paul, 86, on the art studio and other lifelong learning opportunities at The Fountains. 

Forget the notion of the rocking chair and shawl. The residents here approach life with zest and enthusiasm.

Four artists in residence at the Fountain's art studio collaborated and created an acrylic mural for the café at the scenic Sarasota community. The 4-foot by 9-foot canvas, which was inspired by the work of Henri Matisse, was unveiled at a special reception recently. All of the objects and scenes in the mural, including wine made on the premise, can be found on the 53-acre campus.

"The most fun is seeing it all come together. I'm so glad we did it and we are still talking to each other. Artists have strong ideas of what they want and we created a cohesive mural," Paul said.

Meet the Artists:

Carolyn Ambuter, 89, lived in New York before she came to Sarasota six years ago. The needlepoint artist and author has reinvented her creative focus and loves the way she is now creating.

"I was a perfectionist with needlework. It got to a point I was too perfect. I liked the back of the canvas better. I went to the art student's league in New York and freed myself. I did big, bold acrylic painting," Ambuter said. "Now I do recycled and mixed media...I love the freedom and I'm having a good life. It's a nice way to spend old age."

Philomena Caiti, 96, grew up in New York during the Great Depression and couldn't get a formal education, she said. Caiti did study life drawing through night classes and created crafts such as felt-sculpted dwarfs and paper maché. Now she's creating the art of her dreams.

"I always had the talent...You are never too old to start something new. I am young at heart. If you have interests go out there and do things. With me I always feel young," Caiti said. "I hope to inspire others. Don't ever say you are too old."

Lyn Jacobson, 85, lived on Casey Key for 35 years before coming to the Fountains in 2005. The interior designer loves the convenience of having an art studio in the community.

"After we came here the general manager at the time and one of our residents decided they would offer an art studio. I figured well, why not go back to painting," Jacobson said. "Its wonderful to have an art studio, to go and work anytime. It helps keep the apartment clean."

Paul, 86, lived in New England most of her life before coming to Sarasota two years ago. Art has been a lifelong pursuit, which runs in her family. 

"I have always enjoyed drawing. It was something I could do quietly when my children were little that wouldn't wake them up," Paul said.

In addition to art, Paul enjoys the community connections she has developed through writing her memoirs.

"Writing our memoirs has helped me become acquainted with other residents on a deeper level. You could say I am multi-talented" Paul said.

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