The Passions Project is a portrait series created by photographer Heidi Wagner that captures the essence of older adults doing what they love to do. Through her lens, Heidi makes visible what is often unseen — a new view of aging that includes vitality, independence and meaning. Pinkard Construction sponsored this amazing project at Eaton Senior Communities. You can click on each the thumbnail of each resident to view all of their photos or you can view the full collection here.
“My passions are many but today, I would like to discuss my photography…
When I see beauty, I want to capture it. I want to be able to look at it again, as I saw it that instant. And I think that’s what started with that big maple tree. I saw that tree and I actually stood under it and cried because I didn’t know how to keep that picture and I was just 13 or 14. And I was totally moved by the by the beauty of it. And that’s why I still do photography.”
DeWilla: Teaching Exercise
“This exercise class started in May 2009. Been doing it…to keep myself in shape. And help other people so they can be in shape too.”
Don: Radio & TV
“Okay, I’ve got all kinds of passions here and I made a list. I’m a very complicated person. I have Asperger’s syndrome. Are you familiar with that? Okay, it’s a mild form of autism. It means: I’m very long in logic, but I’m very short in natural social abilities, although I can learn it. I have in over 50 years in radio and TV. You put a microphone in front of me and I’m just fine….
I spent a lot of my radio career being a newsman, and doing newscasts and all that kind of stuff. And so that kind of fit in with my career. I’m a very good reader, I have no trouble reading stuff and doing it without a mistake…I did the channel six auction for 35 years and every year they would have the auction and so I’d stand up there and I’d read all the items and so on.”
Dorothy: Jazz & Volunteering
“I think volunteering would be my number one passion. You know how important I think it is and what it’s meant in my life. I wasn’t doing the giving because I get so much more back than I leave with anybody. So it’s actually your normal kind of selfish thing to be doing perhaps. And music. Jazz is my passion. And the Civil Rights Movement is my passion. I’m so passionate about my passions…
And now, I go downtown to Dazzle a lot, which is the name of the club I go to. I always go on the first Saturday of the month. They have a live jazz brunch. And so, I was there that day, and then that Saturday night, and that Sunday night was a saxophone player that comes once a year from New York. And, oh my goodness, I love this man. He’s 86. And so friends came up to take me as a birthday gift. So, I’m there twice on that Saturday and then Sunday. And then on my real birthday, we went because they had big band music. And so I was there for days. I said I should have brought a cot and just stayed down there.”
“When Corky Gonzales, not sure if you have heard of him, a famous Latino activist that we followed during the late 50s-60s. What we called the: ‘justice for Chicano’ movement. Without him, no one would ever taken the reins and and did what he did…And yeah, he was a prominent figure in Denver. And he’s been noted in the news in that for what he did for the Chicano Community. Starting this crusade for justice. Gee, what was I…17 or 18 years old following Corky. His bail bondsman shop office was across the street on Larimer Street from where I used to sing, called the Acapulco lounge…
You know, my dad was a guitar player and you know, my mom the singer, and my mom’s brothers also were musicians. So you know, it runs in the family on both sides of the family. And because my mom had the most beautiful voice, I wanted to be like her. And since I was with her all the time, she taught me all of that stuff, you know, singing and, and we just became a passion of singing it all, even up until she was 93. When she passed four years ago, she sang the song. I remember, she still held her tune. At 93, she held that tune.”
Marvin: Miniatures & Art
“My passion is miniatures, specifically miniature paintings. But you could if you look around the apartment, you can see quite a few different kinds of miniatures that I have worked on…When I retired, I lived in a mobile home. And I started working on miniatures and just really loved it. There’s so many different ways you can do it and trying to figure out convenient ways to do it, but make it look a little better than it really is. That is the challenge.
“You have to be dedicated to want to take pictures in the cave. You try hauling that equipment through. I mean, you know, especially Colorado caves you have to armor yourself because Colorado caves are small. They’re very tight. So you’re always crawling and climbing and, and so then you have to armor your camera equipment too. And if you don’t yell flash before you take a picture, somebody’s going to beat you up because you’re in a dark environment and then to have a flash go off. That’s not accepted…
I’ve always had wanderlust. You know, it’s just got to see what’s on the other side of the hill.”
“First class, I was hooked. I was just hooked playing with hot molten glass. It is my kind of art as an art student, my painting style tends to be more palette knife than brush. I like that mushy squishy, and glass is like that. It has that. That tactile squishy mushy, working with it…Some people love it because they love designing and they love putting it together. That’s not where my passion is. My passion is getting in there and really playing with it.”
Susan: Art, Writing & Gardening
“I found very quickly that I’m not good at following instructions. You know, we’re going to make this today and I’d be out of left field making something else entirely, which drove some instructors and other residents nuts. But yeah, I’m having a great time so then they had our sponge painting class. And, again, I found the technique interesting and the company wonderful and the intention was great. But I would go in a different direction. You know, I didn’t like the composition or I didn’t like the colors or, you know, something struck me as just not very interesting…
If I want a picture of something, I use my cell phone. If I want to picture of about a process or an idea, or I like the colors I mean, that’s what you play with. It’s not, it’s not a document, it’s not a record of anything. It’s a, it’s a process.”
“I was born in Ukraine. Came to the United States in October 1949…And on a second day after we arrived in Kansas, I started working in an old folks home. You did take care of people, men and women that needed to be dressed, bathed fed, take care of people, some are bedridden. So I learn how to do that and did it. I was 16…
When I moved here, I volunteered to do any kind of a sewing that needed alteration. People found out…and people kept coming in to do some alterations. When I was doing the sewing, some people would pay for having things done. Then what I would do is I had a pad. I would write their name, room number and how much they paid and put the money that they gave me for doing the alteration put it in an envelope and end of the month, I would turn it into the foundation. Donate it.”
Art & Gordon: Technology
Art and Gordon both teach technology classes to other residents at Eaton. They particularly love their iPads but are savvy with all sorts of devices.