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Art keeps locals young at heart

Above: Wilma Payne, Debbie Arnold, Sharon Fuentes and Sandra Holman members of the Senior Art Circle show off the charcoal study they did in Cristy Dunn’s Charcoal Class at the Johnson County Center for the Arts.

By Tamas Mondovics

That the number of those “young at heart” artists discovering their artistic talents later in life or in retirement is by no means a secret.
Local artists and Johnson County Center for the Arts director Cristy Dunn agreed when she said, “I love seeing people surprise themselves when they draw or paint or make something they never thought they could.”
The center located at 127 College St, Mountain City, TN, is one of the brightest jewels in the region deservedly maintaining the support of the community both young and old.
Being true to its goal of catering to all ages, the center’s often-read mission statement says, “The Johnson County Center for the Arts is a comprehensive art center serving the residents of Johnson County and surrounding communities and visitors to the area who are seeking authentic Appalachian artwork as well as meaningful events and enrichment experiences. With a primary focus on young artists, the local art community, and Appalachian culture, the objective is to provide a place for artists of varying ages, abilities and interests to flourish by offering a venue to showcase, sell and encourage growth and learning”.
​“For as long as I can remember, making art has been my passion,” Dunn said. “At a very early age, I somehow realized that Art has the power to help us transcend the difficulties of life and connect us to a Creator that is infinitely more powerful than we are.”
Dunn emphasized that art is for everyone, and there is a “growing body of research that shows learning new skills in our golden years protects against dementia, slows the onset of
Parkinson’s for those at risk, counters depression and
promotes positive social bonds.”
While the arts can enrich everyone’s lives, seniors are a group that has, even more, to gain from participation.
“We are fortunate to receive support from Johnson County Community Foundation and Tennessee Arts Commission to make quality classes affordable and accessible for our seniors and other underserved populations, Dunn said.
The Johnson County Center for the Arts is open on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 10-5 p.m. and Saturday 10-2 p.m.