You won’t find Jeanine Semon sitting still. A resident at Ovation Sarah Chudnow, along with her husband Ed, Jeanine paints, walks, swims and practices yoga on a daily basis. At age 87, she stays active and finds joy in the everyday.
Originally from Portage, Jeanine raised a family in Menomonee Falls with her husband Ed, a retired teacher, published writer and playwright. She has three children and seven grandchildren.
Jeanine discovered her passion for art at age 26 while visiting an art exhibit in Milwaukee – she knew she wanted to paint and went on to receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She also found time to take lessons with one of Wisconsin’s most prolific artists, Francesco Spicuzza. Throughout her career, Jeanine taught art and exhibited her work. She was represented by several galleries in New Mexico, as well as Katie Gingrass and Dee Erlien galleries in Milwaukee.
Jeanine continues to make painting, art and creativity a priority. She says the creative arts give her freedom and really impact her frame of mind. One of the bedrooms in the couple’s Ovation Sarah Chudnow apartment is Jeanine’s studio. The entire living space is filled with artwork – Jeanine’s alongside other artists’. Stained glass hangs in the windows and Persian rugs cover the floors, whose patterns can be found repeated in Jeanine’s paintings.
One of Jeanine’s series was recently on view for residents and guests as part of Ovation’s robust art program. Passages: A Story in Five Paintings is a beautiful representation of Jeanine and her work. It includes symbols, such as dolphins, birds, trees and a wide variety of creatures. Jeanine describes symbols as the hobbies, colors and ideas that have stuck with people all of their lives, that become their art. She encourages others to reflect and start creating.
“You get a different awareness from expressing yourself through art, no matter what age you may be,” says Jeanine Semon. “It makes you stronger, and is true of any form of creativity be it music, writing, painting, or setting the table…” Jeanine hopes to find a permanent home for the Passages paintings series, one where it can be seen and enjoyed by many people, due to its expression of and need for freedom, for the artist and animals.
When she’s not painting, Jeanine participates in a wide variety of the activities offered at Ovation Sarah Chudnow. She enjoys prominent local speakers, Ovation’s ReCharge! brain class and music programming, and getting to know the other residents. She’s hoping to start her own class, where people can drop in to create and talk about art.
Jeanine is grateful for the variety of opportunities that continue to come her way. “You know inside what is right for you and what doors to open,” said Semon. “Finding and pursuing your passion is what life is all about. If something doesn’t work, don’t worry, there’s more.”
Semon is also author of “Living Art, Living Young: 85 and Still Going Strong.” Find her on Facebook.