The GO! Arts Program
Fall Schedule of Classes
(for class availability, please call 210-383-9723)
LOCATION: Bihl Haus Arts, 2803 Fredericksburg Road
Call (210) 383-9723 for class availability
LOCATION: Alicia Trevino Lopez Senior Center, 8353 Culebra
Call (210) 558-0178 for class availability.
LOCATION: Elvira Cisneros Senior Center, 517 SW Military Drive
Call (210) 927-9328 for class availability
GO! Arts is made possible in part with support from the WellMed Charitable Foundation, the Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation, the San Antonio Area Foundation, the Shield-Ayres Foundation, the Junior Women's Forum, and Primrose at Monticello Park Senior Apartments.
About GO! Arts @ Bihl Haus Arts
GO! Arts, the Golden Opportunity Arts Program, provides professionally taught art classes to the “Goldens,” senior residents of Primrose, where Bihl Haus Arts is located, and to residents of the surrounding communities. The program is spearheaded by Arts Education Director Debora Kuetzpal Vasquez, MFA. Classes at Primrose are taught in the Bihl Haus gallery, which also offers special art and literary workshops, and regular gallery exhibits and events. The Goldens are stimulated by this environment of changing exhibitions that feature well-known local and international artists. They have opportunities to engage not only with the work, but with the artists themselves through guest artist lectures, field trips, and other activities. In addition, GO! Arts classes are also offered at the Alicia Trevino Lopez Senior Center, 8353 Culebra, and at the Elvira Cisneros Senior Center, 517 SW Military Dr.
The Program began in 2007 as a response to a request from a Primrose resident, who was also a Bihl Haus Docent. She felt that too many residents were leading isolated lives locked in their apartments. The initial class proved so popular that by the end of the year three classes were being offered. One of the highlights of the GO! Arts Program is when a Golden completes her or his first artwork. It shows that they have been able to let their imaginations experience images and memories long lost to time and, in many cases, to pain. Many families respond more positively to the Golden artists because they no longer dwell on the negative or health issues and other problems.
Many residents move to Primrose after suffering a traumatic event in their lives—loss of a spouse, job, or home, and in some cases the onset of disease and chronic health problems. Some can no longer drive, which results in extreme isolation. These factors can lead to loneliness, depression, and failing health. Our experience shows that community-based senior art programs run by professional artists promote health and prevent disease. It also has a positive impact on seniors maintaining independence and on reducing dependence, and therefore appears to reduce risk factors that drive the need for long-term care.
To demonstrate this observation, in early 2008 Drs. Adelita Cantu, from the UTHSCSA School of Nursing, and Jill Fleuriet, Associate Professor of Anthropology at UTSA, began an 18-month research project with the Bihl Haus Goldens. Titled Arts and Aging in an Urban Environment, the project documented the Goldens' experiences in the Goldens Opportunity Art Program, particularly as they relate to arts, aging, and health. Drs. Fleuriet and Cantu and their students actively participated in and observed the painting classes as well as interviewed Golden students. The Goldens kept diaries on their medications, doctor's visits, and social activities for the duration of the research project. The results overwhelmingly support our belief that this program significantly improves the lives of senior participants. Results of the study were published Arts and Health (July 2012), an international peer-reviewed academic journal.
Currently, the Program offers two painting and drawing classes, a craft class, a special projects class, creative writing, and yoga. Special Projects, taught in 2 or 3-month semesters, allows the Goldens freedom to experiment with new media and different teachers. Special Projects have included "Golden Memories" a 15-foot wide mural (spring 2010), with lead artist Adriana Garcia, the mosaic tiled "Dreambench," with lead artist Dale Jenssen assisted by Roland Mazuca and Kim Bishop, the "Kitchen Goddess," a collaborative exhibit (April 2011) with textile artist Suchil Coffman-Guerra, and "VidArte" with Deborah Kuetzpal Vasquez.
In addition to regular art classes, the Program also offers yoga at Bihl Haus on Wednesday mornings with Dr. Sreedhara A.R. A medical doctor from Bangalore, India, Dr. Sreedhara is also a Yoga Master as well as an accomplished dancer in the tradition of Bharathanatyam, one of the most beautiful, subtle, sophisticated, and graceful dance forms in the world. Dr. Sreedhara reaches out to the Goldens through yoga to help heal their minds and bodies, and explores the mind-body-spirit through yoga and dance.
Bihl Haus Arts is an art classroom during the week, when the Goldens set up and take down folding tables and chairs as needed for the various classes. The space is also available free of charge for community meetings on some evenings during the week. After the last class on Thursdays, the Goldens put away the tables and chairs and tidy up the space. Then it becomes the gallery—Bihl Haus Arts—, which is free and open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 4 pm. During that time, the gallery is staffed by Bihl Haus Docents. At 4 pm on Saturday, the Docents on duty set up the space once again for class on Monday. And the cycle repeats. Bihl Haus Arts is a jumpin’ joint everyday of the week, except Sunday, when it rests. (Updated April 2013)