At 102, he's still creating art

Leo Weisz , 102, is a former art director for Acme Markets. His love of art began in grade school. He displayed an article about himself at the luncheon.
Leo Weisz , 102, is a former art director for Acme Markets. His love of art began in grade school. He displayed an article about himself at the luncheon.
Posted: May 05, 2013

Leo Weisz has been involved in art since he was 6, helping design advertisements for his father's Philadelphia five-and-dime store. He's still creating art, and his favorite medium is watercolors - at age 102.

"His secret to a long life is that he never worked. He loved what he did, so it was never work," Weisz's son, Howard, said of his father's accomplishments, including a lifelong career in illustration and advertising. For more than 40 years, Weisz was the art director for Acme Markets. He also designed advertising layouts for such products as Klondike Bars.

Weisz was one of more than 150 senior citizen artists honored at a Peco-sponsored luncheon Friday. May is Older American Month, and many of the artists' works are on display throughout Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Corp. for Aging (PCA) connects seniors to arts-related activities, and more than 180 artists participated in this year's "Celebrate Arts and Aging" exhibitions. PCA is one of the region's largest nonprofits, helping older Philadelphians remain active and involved in the community.

Weisz said he had been interested in art since he was in grade school.

"They sent me to art school Friday afternoons," he recalled. "Then I got a scholarship to the University of the Arts." After he graduated, his father wanted to pass down the family store, but Weisz declined.

"I told him I was too far gone into the arts to take the store," he said.

Yuk Fai Tsang was another centenarian artist honored Friday afternoon. His friend Dick Fong translated that the 100-year-old Tsang likes to keep busy and takes weekly art classes.

"The senior center offered classes," he said. "He also takes English classes every Wednesday, and wakes up at 5 a.m. every day to do tai chi."

Tsang, who used to work for a trading company and a restaurant, said he liked painting and art and is glad he became involved with the arts.

"He's only been painting for about 10 years. He also writes Chinese calligraphy, and loves working with watercolor paints," Fong said.

As does Weisz. Their watercolors, along with the art of the other seniors, are on display at the "Celebrate Arts and Aging" exhibit at the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia through May 31.

"He's a wonderful artist," Bernice Paul, a 96-year-old artist, said of Weisz.

Weisz has three children, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Howard Weisz praised his father's artistic abilities and his drive to stay active even at 102.

"I took the car away from him at 101," he said. "He just started using a walker in January, but mentally he is there 100 percent."


Contact Hillary Siegel at hsiegel@philly.com or follow on Twitter @Hillary_Siegel.

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