It was a joy to catch up with former Omaha artist Carole Greenberg a few weeks back. For many years, Greenberg served as the Assistant Director and beloved artistic muse for the Pennie Z. Davis Child Development Center where she began working as a part-time employee in 1990.
Carole and husband Andy relocated to Florida in 2015 along with Carole’s mother. Carole has been keeping busy doing what she loves most: fostering a love for and creating art.
In spite of Covid-19, the Greenbergs, who live in a gated retirement community, are far from feeling shut-in.
“We rarely venture outside of our development right now due to the pandemic, but it has actually been lovely. Testing is brought to us, we have many food delivery options available, and we are fortunate to have a backyard and a wonderful community to hunker down in.”
As a long time educator, Carole is not a fan of schools reopening in Florida.
“At this time I just don’t think it is a wise health decision. I understand the push to do so and the impact school closings have on families and the work force, but COVID-19 is real and will continue to spread. It isn’t going away anytime soon... I guess it is something we will all have to learn to live with, but overall we could be doing better with precautions to slow the spread and reopening schools runs counter to logic.”
In spite of the pandemic, Greenberg shares that she and Andy “have been keeping surprisingly busy- more than ever before! Andy has been teaching Hebrew school remotely and lecturing on a variety of topics including Judaics and business. He is a wonderful orator and teacher and really enjoys what he does. I have a dedicated art room in our home that I can broadcast from- not a day goes by where we are not offering some variety of zoom classes.”
One of Greenberg’s favorite groups however, is one she has created specifically for her grandchildren in Kansas City. “My daughter-in-law actually came up with the idea,” she shares. “Once the kids (ages 6, 8 and 13) went into homeschooling, we came up with a plan for their art curriculum. My daughter-in-law introduces a new artist or style to them and they spend a couple weeks researching and learning about it. Then every 2 weeks, we hold a 30-45 minute zoom class project that I have prepared for them. With the differences in ages, I always come up with something that they can do that is appropriately tailored to their age and skill levels because I don’t want them to become frustrated with the creative process. I can demonstrate the project step by step via a scanner and it is so much fun. It is a real highlight for all of us and and we love this close special time together even though the physical distance between us is far. I take great pride and enjoyment in seeing children create art from their own perspective. There is no right or wrong in art and it is one of the most enjoyable parts of my week.”
When not holding art classes online, Greenberg is busy channeling her own artistic energy into new pieces, which cover the couple’s home. “When we left Omaha, I donated at least 75% of my supplies to the CDC. I didn’t think I would spend as much time doing art as I actually am! When we first moved to Belagio, I joined the art committee and served as a co-chair for three years, during which time I recruited many of our residents to try their hand at art. There were many who feared they just didn’t have talent, which is ridiculous- everyone has talent! The art group grew by leaps and bounds and it was really fabulous!”
She continues. “We held a yearly art show -by invite only- with work from over 70 artists from within our little gated community. We had upwards of 700 people come through each year and donated 20% of the total sales to charity. It was amazing.”
Another community endeavor of Greenberg’s was the creation of an art showcase where groups of 10 would tour other resident artists homes as a fundraiser. “It was really lovely. We’d give our shpiel and enjoy each other’s creations- everyone felt our home was like a museum! It really helped get our community neighbors more interested and active in art.”
Before stepping down from the committee last year, Greenberg helped to begin a ‘size matters’ petition to expand the community art room and was very pleased with the number of residents who became more involved during her tenure.
“My dear mother passed away last year at the age of 96. She always said she wished to go quickly and painlessly at home, and she got her wish. After her passing, I turned her room into my art studio and spend much of my days in there creating... although these days I am trying to focus on smaller pieces as wall space is a limited commodity in our home.”
Carole explains that she gets bored easily and is always interested in working with new mediums. “I work a lot with acrylics, clay, collage, watercolors, resin pouring to name a few, although a personal favorite is mosaic. I am also a huge Frieda Kahlo fan and she has been my muse for quite a while. I have a whole corner of our home dedicated to pieces that have been inspired by her.”
The Greenbergs really loved Omaha, but have no regrets about moving to their Florida community. “Life has been really great here and the weather cannot be beat. I was a little apprehensive about moving because it seems that as you age, it becomes harder to meet people and develop those deep connections and friendships, but that has not been the case for us. There was so much in the way of clubs to join, entertainment, places to visit and we have met so many wonderful people. Everyone needs something that sparks their passion and for me, art is that spark. Since moving here I have been able to nurture that for myself and share it with so many others, which is a real gift.”