Artful Aging Arts Initiative

Thank you for helping to make Johnson City Public Library’s Artful Aging program possible by making a tax-deductible donation above!

Call 423-434-4454 for more information on how you can participate in an Artful Aging class.

We’re in the news!

Check out the following Johnson City Press articles highlighting the Artful Aging program.

Seniors show their Acting Chops in Artful Aging Performance

History of the Artful Aging Arts Initiative

For the past two years, the Johnson City Public Library’s Artful Aging program has provided a variety of skills-focused arts workshops led by professional teaching artists. Initially funded through a “Seeding Vitality Arts” grant from Aroha Philanthropies, these workshops offered opportunities for adults 55 years and up to explore challenging new skills in a welcoming and supportive atmosphere. The library has offered Appalachian music, storytelling, poetry, acting, sculpture, and photography. The results have been shared with our community through exhibits and performances. The library is committed to continuing these opportunities for emerging artists in the community for little or no charge.

A Soirée of Song & Story at The Down Home –

Upcoming Benefit for Artful Aging


Local music venue The Down Home will present “A Soirée of Song and Story” on Saturday, April 20. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, but a donation of more is much appreciated. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online at Proceeds from the evening will go to funding library-sponsored arts workshops throughout 2019. For more info on the fundraiser, email Lisa Williams or call 423-434-4356.

The library and The Down Home both have strong connections to Southern Appalachian history and tradition, and the evening’s entertainment will reflect that. Featured performers include local musicians The Brother Boys, Richard Hood, and The Dependents; storyteller Molly Catron; and poets Jesse Graves and Rita Sims Quillen. Performer bios are below.


The Brother Boys: Ed Snodderly and Eugene Wolf began their brother-duet singing back in the 1990s, long before the term “Americana” was born. As The Brother Boys, Snodderly and Wolf have a knack for this old-time sound. The emotions and country heartache tones match the landscape of East Tennessee, where they both grew up. Their seamless harmonies and infectious rhythms celebrate the musical culture of the timeless Mountain South. Learn more here.

The Dependents: The Dependents are a trio of talented multi-instrumentalists whose combined age doesn’t yet equal 30. They’ve racked up an impressive number of appearances in recent months, including Buskerfest in Abingdon and The Down Home Christmas Show. For a taste of their lively humor, remarkable repertoire, and overall cuteness, visit their Facebook page.


Molly Catron: As a storyteller, Molly looks at life through a storyteller’s lens, finding beautiful little nuggets of life that warm our hearts, inform our minds, and tickle our funny bones. She says, “stories help us remember our humanity. When we remember our humanity, we know what we must be and do.” Learn more about Molly here.

Richard Hood: Richard has played bluegrass and old-time music for over 50 years. He has performed all over the United States, released a dozen albums, and appeared on national television. His novel Regret the Dark Hour, which will be released this year, is steeped in Appalachian music and traditions. He lives in Greene County. Listen to a sample of Richard’s music here.


Jesse Graves: Tennessee native Jesse Graves is Poet in Residence and Associate Professor of English at East Tennessee State University. He was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame in 2015. He is the first writer to win the Weatherford Award more than once, for his books Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine and Basin Ghosts. The award is given to those “who best illuminate the challenges, personalities and unique qualities of the Appalachian South.” Past recipients include Charles Frazier, Lee Smith, and Henry Louis Gates. Learn more about Jesse Graves here.

Rita Sims Quillen: Poet Rita Sims Quillen entertains through her poems, novels, and music. Her novel Hiding Ezra was shortlisted for the DANA Award, her books of poetry have received several Pushcart nominations, and Rita was a contender for Poet Laureate of Virginia. She says she knew as a child that she wanted to be a writer, but didn’t realize she could write about the “miraculous in the ordinary” of her life in Southern Appalachia. Rita lives and farms in Scott County, VA. Learn more about her life and work here.

Video Testimonials About Artful Aging

Artful Aging Classes in 2018

Oral Narratives

Taught by Marjorie Shaefer




Acting 1

Taught by Ed Breese




Afro-Caribbean Drumming & Creative Movement

Taught by Dr. Arnold Nyarambi




Photography–Film & Darkroom

Photography–Film & Digital

Both taught by Katie Sheffield



Sculpture–Animal Abstractions

Sculpture–Folk Art

Both taught by Angelique Lynch