Harrison Township 55 and older program holds art exhibit after months of virtual classes

Active-adult event held at Mullica Hill Art Center

Artists Beverly Henry, Mary McCleary, June Lang, and Barbara Millar escape the heat and outside banter while discussing what they like most in the exhibit. JAMES JACKSON/The Sun

Now that COVID has slowed and businesses have reopened, people are finally getting off their couches and returning to some form of normalcy. And the Harrison Township 55 and older active-adults program can finally be held in person. 

That was the case on June 25, with the program’s art exhibit at the Mullica Hill Art Center. 

“I called the (art center) owner Chelsea. I said I have an idea, and from there, she jumped on it,” said Sandra Lascio, active adult coordinator. 

Once Lascio knew the pandemic was slowing, she sought activities that could be done outside of Zoom, since the members’ hands weren’t visible. 

“I had to talk them into doing the Zoom meetings first while making it worth their while,  so we subsidized the classes,” Lascio explained. 

Until the exhibit, art classes were held online for about 15 months. Supplies were delivered to the front doors of interested participants, and the classes were taught by art center owner Chelsea Hagerty. 

Barbara Millar recalled how much COVID affected her both physically and mentally. Once she found out a vaccine was coming, she created an abstract for the art show of how it existed in her mind. 

Once Barbara Millar found out that a vaccine was being created for COVID, she then created an abstract of how it existed in her mind. JAMES JACKSON/The Sun

“You’re sitting there, and they’re like, ‘Here’s the picture,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to do this?” Millar recalled. “But you just do.”

During the early years of the active-adult program, Lascio was strictly the bus driver. But after she obtained a permit for the vehicle and money for tolls, Lascio took on all facets of the trips.

“The senior program is different from most towns because we don’t have a center, so we have to be creative,” she explained. 

Lascio told the Sun that a couple of churches in Harrison Township have let the program borrow space from time to time. During the late 2000s, events were few and far between. Now, there is at least one every other week, if not every week. 

Like Millar, three-year student Beth Sarson recalled how much COVID took out of her. 

“COVID sort of threw me off,” she admitted. 

But for the exhibit, Sarson painted a lighthouse, a window with flowers, and nightlife scenery using acrylic paint.

Beth Sarson, who has been participating in the Active Adults 55 and older arts program for 3 years, painted a lighthouse, a window with flowers, and nightlife scenery using strictly acrylic paint. JAMES JACKSON/The Sun

Before COVID, the active-adults program held virtual museum tours, yoga classes, and storytelling. Now, strength-training classes are held every Friday at Ella Harris Park from 10 to 11 a.m., and an active summer walking program is held on Tuesdays from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the William Wilt Soccer Complex.