Overheard at ArtsWestchester

This week’s blog is a story overheard and shared with me by my executive assistant Megan Thomson Connor. 

Artist Evan Bishop had a grand idea. He brought it to ArtsWestchester and was awarded an Arts Alive Individual Artist grant for his “100 Words of Wisdom.” It is a “body art” project in which Bishop is asking 100 seniors: “If you could give one word to the youth of today, what word would it be?” and then paints that word on the senior’s body. On Wednesday, June 28, I was lucky enough to be present as Evan and his partner Katori Walker interviewed and painted their 87th participant, an Italian man named Marco whom Katori had met at a local hospital.

Marco’s meter was running on his Corvette, and he was in a hurry to get started on his first body art experience in a studio at ArtsWestchester.

“What colors do you want your word in?,” Bishop asked him.

Marco shrugged “Blue?”


Marco looked down at his Hawaiian shirt, a dizzying print of black and white.

“Blue, black and white.”



(photo credit: Megan Thomson Connor)

At this point, I immediately conjured in my head that Marco’s story would be about advising young people to save their pennies like my grandparents told me. “Put money away for your retirement now.” His story couldn’t have been more unexpected. Marco said the “PennySaver” magazine saved his life.

Here is his story: One day, in 2015, as he sat in his garage, giddily avoiding a shopping trip with his wife and daughter, he noticed in the magazine that the local hospital was giving free cancer screenings. A smoker for the last 20 or so years, Marco figured, “What better way to get out of shopping?” At the screening, they found a mass in his lung. Marco had the beginning stages of lung cancer from his years as a construction worker. Thanks to the PennySaver, they caught it early.

(photo credit: Susan Abbott)

Today, Marco enjoys being bossed around by his grown sons, fixing old cars, chatting on the phone with his childhood best friend who lives in Florida and hang-gliding planes. He hopes his story will inspire others to get a free cancer screening.


(photo credit: Megan Thomson Connor)

Katori Walker then cut to the chase with her last question. Does Marco believe the arts matter, and if so, why? Marco smiled, reminiscing about taking his sons to the Guggenheim and The Met. He confessed to be “a bit of an artist myself.”  He remembers a painting of a woman he did that his wife thought was good enough to hang over their living room couch. “Could we borrow it for our exhibition?,” “You would have to ask my wife,” Marco laughed.


To see the rest of Marco’s story and the other photos of all 100 participants, look out for the “100 WOW” exhibition at the Blue Door Art Center from October 26 to November 4.

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