Penn South creativity wows at annual show

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH| More than 50 residents of  the Penn South Co-operative had their artwork displayed at the Penn South Social Services’ third annual multimedia art exhibition last weekend.

Dozens of paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs lined the walls of the residential co-op complex’s community room on June 8 and 9. The exhibition was open and free to the public. The artists were diverse in age and experience.

“Each year it gets better and better,” said Bridget Oteri-Robinson, a Penn South board member and an organizer of the exhibition, of the artwork displayed. “It’s fascinating the amount of talent we have here.”

“A Vast Expanse,” by Joseph Meloy. (Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

Throughout its 57-year-old history, the Penn South Co-op has been a model housing community. In the 1970s, the co-op created the Penn South Energy Conservation Plan to deal with the rising cost of energy in the city. According to Penn South’s Web site, in 1976, the co-op began to prepay some real estate taxes to help the city during the financial crisis. And in 1986, the co-op created Penn South Social Services to improve the quality of life of co-op residents, in particular, its older population who were aging in place.

Artist and Penn South resident Evy Williams in front of her painting “Spiritual Journeys.” (Photo courtesy of Evy Williams)


Evy Williams’ “Spiritual Journey” (Acrylic on canvas. 24′ x 48′)

The multimedia art exhibition is another example of how the co-operative is responding to residents’ needs and working to enrich the Chelsea community.

According to Oteri-Robinson, the art exhibition started after a co-op resident approached the P.S.S.S. two years ago with the idea of starting a sketching group.

“We said this is a fantastic idea,” she recalled.

At the same time Oteri-Robinson and other P.S.S.S. members were approached about the sketching group, they were also working on a fundraiser, which they decided to turn into an art exhibit.

Originally, the art exhibition solely featured work from members of the art groups within the co-op,  its senior center and the ceramics studio. But now it is open to anyone within Penn South.

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