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World of art

Silver artist discovers new mediums, fellow artists at Riderwood

Created date

September 25th, 2015
Riderwood resident
Riderwood resident

The chance to live among other talented artists is one of the reasons Jo Handerson was attracted to Rid.... “There are some wonderful artists at Riderwood,” she says. “It’s truly amazing how many there are.”

Art is a central part of life at the Silver Spring, Md., Erickson Living community. Dozens of artists live there, where they have access to an on-site art studio and a variety of art classes. Each year, the residents put on an impressive art show. This year’s show featured 191 works of art by 38 artists. 

An eye for art

Jo creates art in a variety of different forms. She says she’s been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember, and she began making silver jewelry when she was in high school. She has a bachelor’s degree in fine art and primarily studied painting. 

In addition to her formal training, Jo has taught herself other mediums over the years. Most recently, she started creating colorful fused glass pieces. 

“I work in silvers, and I saw a wonderful exhibit at the National Gallery on art that they call silverpoint, which is actually drawings in silver,” Jo says. “So I bought a book on it, and that is my next project. That is my life—checking out new things and finding out which I enjoy.”

Jo moved to Riderwood from Reston, Va., about 11 years ago. She had initially visited the community with her mother but remembered it when the time came to consider her own retirement living options. 

Over the years she has lived at Riderwood, Jo has had many opportunities to explore the world of art and to share her own work with others. She has found a ready market for her silver jewelry, which she sells to neighbors and staff members at Riderwood’s annual arts and crafts fair. 

Over the summer, she was taking a colored pencil drawing class taught by another resident. She says learning a new medium always helps her improve her other work.

“When you do art of any kind, something about it transfers to any other art you are doing,” she says. “This class has given me insight into colors and layers.”

Jo has also taken opportunities to share her art with her friends and neighbors at Riderwood. In addition to displaying pieces at the annual art show, she has given a talk about her silver artwork as part of a series of casual get-togethers in which resident artists discuss their artwork.

“I am going to do one on my fused glass as well,” Jo says. “It’s nice to share, and I love to hear about what other people do.”

Personal workspace

At Riderwood, Jo has a two-bedroom apartment home. She has turned her spare bedroom into an art studio, where she stores her supplies and works on projects. Since she doesn’t have to cook very often, she says her kitchen is the perfect spot to set up her kiln. 

Jo drops into Riderwood’s art studio to paint or solder when she feels like working in the company of other artists.

When she’s not busy learning a new art form, Jo enjoys spending time with her family. Her sister, Cathy Pasternak, also lives at Riderwood. The two often get together for dinner or to go shopping. 

“We both sing in the Grace Notes, which is the women’s chorus,” Jo says. “It’s very nice to have each other around.”

Jo’s daughter and grandson live nearby, and her two sons from New Jersey visit frequently. “They love it here, too,” she says of her family.