When Mr. Ta Yu Chen learned that Hamilton-Madison House selected his artwork to be featured on an upcoming invitation, he was surprised and thrilled. The Shui-Mo/Chinese watercolor painting was displayed in December 2008 at City Hall Senior Center as part a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council-supported Senior Arts Festival.
When Hamilton-Madison House staff members viewed selections at the festival, two Shui-Mo particularly stood out among the calligraphies, photographs, and watercolors. A year later, and we wanted to ask Mr. Chen’s permission to use his Shui-Mo that depicted a small colorful bird among a much larger, red-accented flowering plant in front of a cloudy, blue sky.
Upon meeting Mr. Chen for the first time, one would not suspect that he is 80 years old. He is vibrant, cheerful, and incredibly active. His retired life consists of learning computer and Shui-Mo and doing “Stay Well” exercises. He says “his schedule gets very full and he will often spend many hours at night practicing painting and getting more comfortable with the computer.”
Mr. Chen did not know anything about Shui-Mo until 1995 when he took a few classes. It was not until more recently that he started studying the strokes and how to mix colors. He takes most of his classes at City Hall Senior Center but will also attend Grand Street Settlement for additional classes. Mr. Chen remarked that he “has a lot to learn but there are only 24 hours in each day!” The important thing is that he enjoys water color and his busy life.
He spends most of his time at City Hall Senior Center, where he has been a member since 1996, “because of all the opportunities to learn new things, socialize with friends, and expand his hobbies.”
It is a testament to the strength of the House’s senior programs that individuals like Mr. Chen have a comfortable environment to congregate with fellow Chinese American seniors and have opportunities to remain physically and mentally active. City Hall Senior Center is a vibrant home-away-from-home for seniors that served over 65,000 congregate lunches in 2009.