30 June

Photo Journal, June 30, 2022: The New Mansion Activities Room Comes To Life. Big Deal Landscape Artist Matt Chinian Wants To Help Us Class Up Those Walls With First Class Art

by Jon Katz

The new Mansion Activities room has come to life. It looks beautiful and refurbished (more stuff is coming tomorrow, it will look even better.)

Maria conducted her very popular art class, her first in the new room. She was right at home.

There is a different and exciting energy in the room now; people were coming and going all day.

I was walking around the room with Paryese, and we both stopped on the far wall where there were two Balloon Festival posters.

Paryese looked at me and asked, “what do you think?” I said those were nice, but I started thinking how wonderful it would be if I could get a local landscape artist and put some of his photos up there.

Matt Chinian is a well-known and much admired local landscape artist; he is out painting almost every day of the year all over the country.

His landscapes are soft and touching and beautiful, and they capture the feel of our rural county and anything I’ve seen. “Let’s see if we can get a couple of his paintings up there.” Paryese got nervous, as always, when I headed out to do something. I had an excellent feeling about this one.

Matt Chinian calls himself a Prosaic Realist, and he has a studio in town and shows his work almost weekly. After I left the Mansion, I called him up and said he was the perfect artist to be on the walls of the new Mansion Activities Center. He said that was a beautiful idea, he offered to donate a painting, but I said I felt strongly about paying artists for their work.

I said we might not be able to pay his usual total amount, but perhaps we could work something out. He said we absolutely could and told me to go to his studio and look at the paintings. He wasn’t home, but we could meet on Friday or over the weekend. “I’d love to help,” he said, “we can work something out.” I was expecting to beg and plea, but he was on board right away.

Some people are like that, they usually have big hearts.

Some of the paintings are hanging in Matt Chinian’s studio.

I couldn’t believe my good luck. Matt is the real deal, an accomplished landscape painter who has sold many paintings. We could never afford him on the open market or a gallery.

They will be perfect for the Activity Room walls – local, realistic, and touching, and Matt said he had done some paintings right outside the Mansion. I’ll be meeting with him over the weekend.

I was excited and texted Paryese right away. “You get things done, for sure,” she texted back. I blushed.

Maria and Ellen. Maria has the gift of teaching; she is helpful and encouraging and knows what she is talking about. I’ve never seen the residents so focused.


In a day or so, this will be the new media center. Instead of a TV blaring all day long, the residents can turn it on when they want to see something but will be steered to the four tablets we bought, giving them many alternatives just sitting around. That was the idea.


The Queen of Chill greeted everyone, especially Ellen, her new pal, and then went to sleep underneath the table. Ellen, it turns out, is a gifted artist. She says she doesn’t remember that.

On the way out, she finally charmed Summer, the standoffish, dog-hating Mansion Cat we helped the residents rescue five or six years ago. She has a very good life there.

Summer hissed at Zinnia, who never takes no for an answer, and she finally surrendered and let Zinnia sniff her nose. It was pretty sweet. No cat fears Zinnia, they are never fooled.


  1. It gladdens my heart to see the new activity room. What joy for the residents. I wish 104 yo mother in law could be there. She is well 5aken care of at her daughters but has nothing to do but watch the news. She is still aware and sharp but nothing is really offered for her to do but tv in her room.

    1. Thanks, Laurie, this feels so good to me, I’m happy to be a part of it, and the residents are both excited and engaged.

  2. This issue has been studied w all age groups. The inhabitants of nursing homes feel more engaged, with a stake in their “home” if they decide and if they put up residents’ art. Letting outside “experts” direct gives it a feeling of coldness, less engagement, less meaningful.

    This is yet another example of your trying to draw attention to yourself. And you won’t learn from this. You’ll just insult me for pointing out what the residents honestly think is best and what is best for them. Uninformed readers will give you more money.
    Please read Dr Gawande on BEING MORTAL.

    1. William, what a pile of bullshit. I have spoken with three different social workers and gerontologists in the past year or so about the activities room and elderly activities and written about them, and I love Dr. Gawande, his book is a continuing inspiration for me and if you knew one thing about me, you would know that.

      No expert I know of or have read about suggests artistic contributions from the outside hurt people in elderly care. What a dumb thing to say. Institutions like the Mansion need all the help they can get. The greatest problem these Medicaid institutions face is neglect, not support. How awful of you to try and discredit that. Instead of ranting about what elderly people need, perhaps you might get offline and go speak with a couple. I speak with them all the time, I don’t need a stranger online to tell me what they are thinking.

      I suppose you believe that buying boots in the winter is harmful, they should only wear clothes they make themselves or go barefoot.

      Of course I have asked the residents and the staff what kind of art they wish to see on their walls – nothing goes up without their permission and participation. Their lovely art is all over the building. That is not my doing, I am not in charge of Mansion art choices. I respond when asked. This week, we ordered two corke boards so the residents can post their art through the building. They decide which art is posted.

      I’ve been asked to help get good outside local art on the walls also, and I am proud and happy to be doing that. No money is asked for or comes to me at all. Your inference is disgusting.

      (I’m curious. Why is it that people who send insulting messages are the very first ones to whine about being insulted?)

      We had an art class just yesterday and two of their works are going up on the walls, we are framing them. Uninformed bloviators like yourself do more harm to the cause of helping people than anything I can think of with your hostility and anger. Go away and piss on some other parade.

      As is so common now in America, people like you substitute grievance, pomposity, suspicion, and ignorance for thought and truth. You can’t even comprehend sincerity. The truth is a stranger to you, but not to me, and I am happy to call out your lies. Insulting you is a privilege. My wish for myself is to never be a nasty old man who writes messages like this to strangers. Best Jon

      1. It’s heartbreaking to me William, and yes, infuriating, to see again and again how broken people like you will take the most decent, compassionate, and positive things and find a way to twist them into something that is evil and self-serving or greedy.

        Think of it – donated art on the activity room walls, and to you, it’s a conspiracy theory to make more money. As if you have a clue as to what people “of all ages” think, even though we are talking about the elderly.

        You even twist Dr. Gawande’s wonderful book and use it in a way that would horrify him and completely distorts his true message about accepting death and mortality. There isn’t one word about art.

        I will challenge people like you at every turn, it adds meaning to my life.

        This project is all good, as you would know if you actually spoke to a single resident about it, it involves the time and sacrifice and goodwill of many people and all you can do is try to turn it into shit. No one is making a dollar from this.

        Shame on you, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to confront this awful and cruel way of thinking. It lifts me up every time. This project is one of the best things I’ve ever been privileged to work on, and angry people like you will never deter me from this work with your crude jeering and conspiracy.

      2. wowowowow why even respond? I wouldn’t waste my breath. By the way, most people enjoy looking at professionally done paintings and feel that their space is more “classy” when there are carefully curated pieces of art hanging.

        On another note, I just purchased a small painting…on line … from your esteemed artist… a lovely still life….thanks for showing his work. I love it. Can’t afford the ones I really like… the gas station and parking lot series. But, this painting I have just purchased will go nicely with my blue and yellow and cream colored kitchen….thanks again

        1. Oh, that’s so great Shelley, I’m delighted to hear that, I’m going over to see him tomorrow, he really is talented and prolific, something special if you get a chance, send me a jpeg of the painting you bought (I’d love to post it on my blog..) how nice of you…I do need to respond. I just think these peckerheads ought to be challenged, they do a lot of harm to people who can’t or won’t fight…I only do it on occasion, that one was especially obnoxious and arrogant..he’s a coward of course, and we’ll never hear from him again..

          I’d love to see your painting. thanks again..my e-mail is [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Email SignupFree Email Signup