FORT WORTH—Dolores “Toppy” Cochran’s wish is coming true, thanks to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. The 91-year-old amateur artist, who is a resident at Sterling House of Richland Hills, has dreamed of having her artwork exhibited in the museum she loves. In conjunction with the national nonprofit organization Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale Senior Living, that dream becomes a reality when the Amon Carter displays 24 of her paintings in the exhibition titled Toppy’s Passion, on view from May 17 to May 29.
After a stroke left Cochran partially paralyzed in 2004, she began painting, mostly to improve her movement. Rocks were her initial medium of choice; but last year, she tried painting on canvas after visiting the Amon Carter. Cochran participates in the museum’s monthly program for seniors, Sharing the Past Through Art, along with her fellow residents at the assisted living community in Richland Hills, Texas.
“Art is my passion,” Cochran says. “I love going to the Amon Carter and seeing Stacy Fuller (who leads the museum’s Sharing the Past Through Art program). She once gave me a print of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. I was inspired to go home and try my hand at painting it myself.”
Cochran’s subjects range from birds to flowers to landscapes, and her body of work includes more than 80 acrylic, oil and watercolor paintings.
“My goal is to help residents lead a full, well-rounded and vibrant life,” says Julie Cecil, resident program coordinator at Sterling House of Richland Hills. “Toppy is a perfect example of that. When she’s not at our group activities, she’s working at her art table painting beautiful scenes with her cat, Chloe, close beside her. Toppy’s passion has not only enriched her own life, it’s enriched our community as well.”
Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale Senior Living, the parent company of Sterling House of Richland Hills, partner together to grant wishes of seniors across the country. With the help of Cecil, Cochran completed Wish of a Lifetime’s online application form earlier this year. After phone interviews with Cochran and museum representatives, Wish of a Lifetime notified Cochran in March that the organization would support her dream of an art exhibition at the Amon Carter.
“Our belief is that growing older doesn’t mean you have to stop dreaming and living a life of purpose,” says Wish of a Lifetime CEO George Bogdewiecz. “By granting lifelong wishes to seniors who have overcome tremendous challenges in their own lives, our organization is able to spread inspirational stories of hope.
“Toppy’s story is nothing short of inspirational,” he continues. “A stroke is a life-changing event, and Toppy was able to improve her quality of life through her newfound passion of painting. It is our pleasure to grant Toppy’s Wish of a Lifetime.”
Andrew J. Walker, director of the Amon Carter, is also proud that the museum can help fulfill Cochran’s dream.
“We are honored to be a part of this special moment for Toppy,” Walker says. “Through our Sharing the Past Through Art program, she has built a wonderful connection with our collection and several members of our staff. She brings us joy every time she visits, and we are delighted that we can give back to her.”
And, most importantly, Cochran couldn’t be happier.
“It is so exciting to be able to show my art at such a prestigious museum,” Cochran says. “I am thrilled that this dream is coming true.”