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“Some are like caricatures of my worst fears of aging: old men all bent over, the loss of vitality,” says Richard. In “Old Baby,” an elderly man’s face on a sleeping baby’s body speaks to the vulnerability of age. “Aging is probably the most difficult part of life.
But if people create a healthy foundation, an acceptance and a spiritual base, aging can be a time of deep harvest.” Alice’s more recent portraits tackle her worries about her aging body.
“She was missing a breast, but still she was a powerful, sensual woman. A third series, “Aunt Kitty,” includes portraits of Richard’s aunt from ages 87 to 97.
The first painting shows her active, independent, feisty; the last, painted a few hours before she died, is of a quiet, sweet and completely dependent woman, her memory gone.
As Alice embarked on a journey to capture in paint the beauty of aging, Richard, 68, sculpted in clay his own fears about it.
For the Matzkins, acceptance of the aging body has been good for their art careers and for their relationship, too.
Alice’s portraits of Wood and Friedan were purchased by the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian for its permanent collection and the couple were honored by the National Center for Creative Aging.
Together, they published a book, “The Art of Aging: Celebrating the Authentic Aging Self,” and a DVD, “Women of Age: Portraits of Women, Beauty and Strength.” Alice’s newest venture is senior take on the classic skin calendar.
In her second portrait series, “Naked Truth,” she has created nude portraits of women who are comfortable with and confident about how their bodies have aged and changed; the works include a self-portrait, boldly revealing Alice’s makeup-free face, her uneven breasts.
In preparatory work for the series, Alice photographed her subjects in their own environments and allowed them to pose as they chose, whether standing perkily with one hand on a cane or reclining flirtatiously on a bed.