For John Alcantara, paradise isn't a secluded tropical island or a magnificent mansion on the Riveria. It's actually a humble classroom at Santa Monica College's Emeritus Program where the 77-year-old can spend his retirement painting his impressionist-inspired landscapes.
At the college, located on Second Street in downtown, Alcantara has the freedom and the physical space to create works of art that are often much too large to store in his modest apartment off Arizona Avenue. Sometimes he'll even lean on a relative with an underutilized garage to help him hold on to his catalogue.
"I'm afraid I was born a struggling artist," he said, followed by a slight chuckle. "I like to go in and paint all day. The classes are great [at Emeritus] and it is amazing to have such a safe, wonderful place to express yourself."
Alcantara's work, along with pieces by other students, will be on display through July 11 at the Emeritus Art Gallery as part of the annual Student Group Art Exhibition hosted by Emeritus College. The SMC Emeritus Art Gallery is located at 1227 Second St.
"The Emeritus Student Art Exhibition has grown in popularity to the degree that there were literally too many names to print on the exhibition postcard this year," said Emeritus Gallery Director Jesse Benson. "Expect ambitious, professional-level contributions from this brilliant student body."
"The SMC Emeritus community looks forward to this show of the amazing talent of our students," said Associate Dean of Emeritus Scott Silverman. "These artists put a lot of heart, passion, and creativity into their work, and it is a true delight for our artists and the rest of the Emeritus community to appreciate this art together each year."
Alcantara believes art serves as a "silent language" that can bring people together, facilitate the exchange of ideas and perhaps change people's perspectives on a host of issues.
"I appreciate how art speaks differently to everyone," he said. "When you walk into an exhibit, people are drawn to many different things, whether it's color, or shapes or subject. It could be anything. It's whatever speaks to you and what you find interest with. Two people can experience the same artwork in completely different ways and that's what makes it so fascinating."
SMC's widely praised Emeritus program – founded by Santa Monica College in 1975 as a noncredit program to serve the lifelong learning interests of older adults – offers more than 120 noncredit adult education classes and special programs that serve more than 3,000 students each year.
Visit www.smc.edu/emeritus or call (310) 434-4306 for more information.
A portion of this article was repurposed from a Santa Monica College press release.