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PCA’s 2021 art exhibit goes digital for a 2nd year

Alicia Colombo

By Shannon Reyes

For the past 19 years, artists from across the Philadelphia area have submitted their prized creations to Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) for display in its annual Celebrate Arts and
Aging event. When the pandemic prevented the physical display of older adults’ artwork in exhibits last year, the event continued in a virtual space.

PCA is proud to, once again, bring this popular event to Philadelphians virtually in 2021. The 19th annual Celebrate Arts & Aging exhibit will be available online for public viewing throughout
the month of May. For those without internet connections, excerpts of the artwork are printed in the center spread of May’s Milestones newspaper.

Celebrate Arts & Aging showcases the beautiful artistic contributions of professional and amateur artists over 55. Artists submitted more than 100 original works of art on a variety of subject matters and mediums, including oil, acrylic, watercolor and mosaic.

When a member of her visual artists club passed along word of PCA’s Celebrate Arts & Aging, Carol Mastroianni, 67, knew she wanted to be a part of it.

“I loved the idea of the focus being put on the art, creativity and experience of older adults,” Mastroianni said.

She had plenty of experience to pull from when creating her submission for Celebrate Arts & Aging, titled “Bathing Beauty.” Having a life-long love affair with mosaic art, Mastroianni has worked with mosaics in her studio for the last 10 years of what she calls her “Second Act.”

Mastroianni came from an artistic family and fondly remembers family trips to museums, where she developed her own appreciation for art. That appreciation wasn’t lost during her time working in the corporate world. While traveling for her career in training and communication management, she always made time for side trips. She visited archeological sites where ancient mosaics had been uncovered.

After retiring, Mastroianni decided to pursue her passion for mosaics by creating and exhibiting her own original artwork. She has taken mosaic classes in the U.S. In 2015, she traveled to Ravenna, Italy to study under master mosaic artist Luciana Notturni at Studio Arte Del Mosaico. With Notturni’s guidance, Mastroianni used ancient mosaic techniques to create a reproduction of a church mosaic.

“It was just a dream come true,” she said. “Luciana was so inspirational, and I am grateful for the experience.”

Back at home in her studio, Mastroianni continues to create original mosaic works. The piece she entered in this year’s Celebrate Arts & Aging exhibit, “Bathing Beauty,” was a “labor of love” that began with a vintage 1950s mannequin. While the unique piece called to her at an antique show in Ocean Grove, N.J., she stared at it for about a year before her vision for the piece was fully realized. Inspiration came as she researched clothing from the 1950s. Since she found the mannequin at the beach, she thought it only fitting to create a 1950s-inspired bathing suit from mosaics to adorn it. Over the course of two months, using small pieces of stained glass, stone and marble, Mastroianni constructed the aqua-colored bathing suit accented with a large, white flower.

While creating mosaics is labor intensive, Mastroianni finds gratification in the stories told through her art: “I love knowing that when you pull broken pieces together, you can create something beautiful and meaningful.”

One glance at Shahina Siddiqi’s “Mandarin Duck” and you will know she is an artist who values the impact of color. Bold colors are a large part of her style. They make her happy. Siddiqi’s love of striking contrasts overflows into her subject matter: a duck who was once a New York City celebrity.

In October 2018, reports had begun circulating from New York City that a mandarin duck had been spotted in Central Park. Onlookers were enamored with the beauty of the duck, as photos and videos of its gorgeous its gorgeous plumage began to make their way across the internet. What made the bird’s appearance in Central Park so thrilling was not only its striking colors, but also its rarity. Native to East Asia and parts of Russia, there are only a few thousand mandarin ducks left in existence. How it ended up across the world in Central Park remains a mystery to this day.

In 2019, the duck vanished just as mysteriously as it had appeared, but not before Siddiqi had the chance to catch a glimpse of it for herself. During a visit to see her son, who lived in New York City at the time, Siddiqi also had to see the famous mandarin duck of Central Park.

“I thought to myself, what a wonder of nature,” Siddiqi said. “I have to draw it.”

As young as 7 or 8, she was already drawing and creating. Siddiqi considered studying fine art after high school. Although she ultimately decided to go into pharmacy, she continued to keep painting as a hobby. Following her retirement in 2017, Siddiqi continues to paint as a self-taught artist. She prefers the liberation of only knowing how to paint her way.

“When you’re doing art, you don’t have to follow any rules,” Siddiqi said. “You’re free.”

While Central Park’s real feathered celebrity was never spotted anywhere else, Siddiqi’s “Mandarin Duck” has been featured in several exhibits in her native New Jersey, Florida, and now Celebrate Arts & Aging.

Siddiqi has continued to paint for both work and pleasure while living in both New Jersey and Florida. After recently moving to Fort Lauderdale, she has already been commissioned by local businesses for her art, including creating her first full-sized mural. Siddiqi’s work can be viewed on her website at

“There’s an artist in everybody,” Siddiqi said. “People just have to pick up the brush and create something.”
To view PCA’s Celebrate Arts & Aging exhibit, please visit

PCA’s 19th Celebrate Arts and Aging Festival is sponsored by PECO/Exelon.

Shannon Reyes is the public relations specialist at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging.


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