Riderwood Arts Council Cultivates a Creative Culture
Updated: May 23
Silver Spring, MD - "The wonderful thing about Riderwood is that it gives you the time and opportunity to not only be yourself, but to uncover new ways to express yourself," says Amy Greenwood, who moved to the Erickson Senior Living community in Silver Spring, Md.
Amy, a Chicago native, started her career as a high school art teacher.
"I've always been interested in art," she says. "I then became the executive director of a nonprofit program that brought art into public schools."
Since her move to Riderwood eight years ago, Amy - an active member of the community's Arts Council - has continued her artistic pursuits in retirement, working with acrylics, painting boxes, and creating collages and 3D constructions.
"Riderwood is such a creative, inspiring community, offering so many possibilities," she notes.
Shortly after her move, Amy shared her work in an annual exhibition called "Feast for the Eyes" at the community's Montgomery Station clubhouse.
"There were so many residents participating in the exhibition," recalls Amy. "Fiona Divecha, who at the time was Riderwood's community resource manager, asked if I would be interested in helping create an arts council to support the artists on campus. I said yes, of course!"
And thus, the Arts Council of Riderwood was born. Working with administration, the council hosts three to four exhibitions a year, featuring the work of both residents and staff members.
Each exhibition rotates among the campus galleries, which are located in the Lakeside Commons, Montgomery Station, and Village Square clubhouses, and the artwork is juried by professionals that reside in the local area.
"Our goal is to bring good art to the entire Riderwood community by showcasing the talents of many residents," says Amy.
A supportive community
Other resident creatives heading the Arts Council include Winnie Coggins, Don Becker, Doug Bolt, David Ebert, Amy Greenwood, Herb Lieberman, Tom Mertz, Michele Morgan, Sylvia Reed, Thomas Smith, Jean Sonntag, and Jerry Weinstein.
Members of the council express their appreciation for the support they receive when sharing their work. In fact, for several members, Riderwood's support for the arts impacted their decision to move to the community.
"My husband and I chose Riderwood after we learned that the community not only supported the arts but offered a wide range of activities," says Michele Morgan. "I wanted to be active and involved in a community and meet people with similar interests."
Winnie Coggins, current chair of the Arts Council, shares a similar sentiment.
"I fell in love with clay in 1970 and began making functional pottery," she says. "As part of The Artists' Gallery in Columbia, Md., I moved toward more sculptural work and got to know artists in other disciplines. I decided to move to Riderwood because of the very active arts community here, as well as the art room devoted to ceramics."
For council member Tom Mertz, moving to Riderwood opened the door to a new hobby.
"As a relative newcomer to art, I feel honored to have shown my pieces in several of Riderwood's exhibits. This opportunity has proven invaluable to me," he says. "Riderwood's art exhibits are a tremendous asset to the residents."
Something for everyone
To encourage artistic exploration, the Arts Council introduced "Adventures in Creativity," an exhibit featuring artists who are new to their craft, in 2020.
"The idea came from the fact that many of us don't explore our creative sides until we retire and move to Riderwood, where we enjoy both the opportunity and the time to do things we couldn't do during our work life," says Amy. "Many of our neighbors have discovered passions for artistic endeavors. 'Adventures in Creativity' allows these people to showcase their newfound skills."
Over the years, the Arts Council has also sponsored Art Talks, in which residents discuss their pieces in a particular exhibit, and Art Walks, where artists lead guests through a current exhibition, providing details and insight.
"There are so many reasons why I love our exhibits," says Amy. "The chance to show others what I am doing provides so much inspiration and encouragement. I also love seeing what other people are doing. It's really amazing, the talent we have here at Riderwood, and it's such a joy to see people discover creativity within themselves."
'The ideal place'
Fellow council member Jerry Weinstein agrees.
"Whether you've never done anything in art before upon arriving at Riderwood or you've been involved in it for a lifetime, this is the ideal place to work on your art and develop new interests," he says.