Unique artworks and opportunities to create art enrich the lives of assisted living and memory care residents.
A curated art collection is just one of the many thoughtful touches that make Paddock Ridge feel like home. From the imaginative paintings on the walls to a life-size horse commissioned from a local artist, the assisted living and memory care neighborhoods in this senior community were designed to inspire and engage residents and make them feel like family.
“The colors and being in such a bright and happy environment has helped nurture them,” says Operations Coordinator Cody Mansfield of the residents, many of whom are around the same age as his grandparents. “We’re trying to create a different kind of lifestyle, like a home.”
And who better to create art for your home than a family member who is also a local artist? Currently, the largest artwork in the building is the life-size horse painted by Mansfield’s great-aunt Elsie Ruiz, a lifelong Ocalan who incorporated iconic local architecture and native foliage into the project. It is actually the second life-size horse she’s painted. The first was Horse O’Plenty, part of Ocala’s Horse Fever exhibit, now on permanent display at Ocala Civic Theatre. She’s working on an even bigger project: a pastoral horse farm mural with grand oak trees and horses, which will span an entire wall in the activities room. That really feels like home for the Mansfields, who have enjoyed Aunt Elsie’s personalized murals in their homes for two generations.
Because they designed this community to be good enough for their own families, it was only natural that the local owners would include a thoughtful art collection. They were very intentional about including elements of art throughout the neighborhoods, Mansfield says.
“Art is in our homes,” he explains. “It’s part of our family and who we are. I think it shows our personalities a little bit; we’re colorful people.”
Family friends Scott and Paula Ryan partnered with the Mansfields to create Paddock Ridge; they share the same vision to make the community feel like home.
“Art does bring a calming to the soul,” Paula Ryan says. “When we were decorating our theme was to have it warm and welcoming, like home.”
Walking into Paddock Ridge, the first impression for visitors is usually the bright, airy feeling in the main lobby. That was a key element, says Rita Williams, the interior designer who, Mansfield says, shared their vision for a community where art tells stories that engage and inspire residents. She included several whimsical prints by Jacksonville artist Michelle McDowell Smith, who was the featured artist at last year’s Fine Arts for Ocala Festival.
“I believe that art has to have imagination,” Williams says. “It tells you a whole story; it’s like reading a novel.” She enjoys making spaces beautiful but says her work “doesn’t matter if the care isn’t wonderful.” Paddock Ridge is different, she says – it “feels like family.”
The community is a family for the owners and the staff who bond with residents in the neighborhood environment, as well as volunteers like Ruiz who spend time with the residents helping them create art projects of their own.
“I feel really privileged to do this, because it’s kind of a family thing,” she says. “I believe art is really important. It lifts their spirits a bit and that’s what I hope I can do.” She also takes suggestions from the residents for the new mural, and they can watch as this piece comes to life, where they often enjoy seasonal and holiday arts and crafts that are always fun and allow them to be creative, which sometimes includes an occupational therapy component.
Paddock Ridge resident Julia Sineo, for example, won a hat-decorating contest for the two creations that allowed her to exercise the hand she is working to strengthen through therapy. She decorated the mask she wore to the residents’ Mardi Gras party and is now looking forward to the derby party, where ladies will wear their own custom, personalized hats and residents will enjoy an authentic celebration complete with mint juleps.
Some residents are in the process of creating paintings on canvas with the help of students from Trinity Catholic High School National Art Honor Society, and residents also enjoy craft projects they complete with fifth grade students from Grace Christian School. Ryan, whose daughters attended both schools, says the residents love spending time with the children, painting birdhouses, decorating cookies and spanning the generational gap. These ongoing art activities help Paddock Ridge residents share their rich life stories. That’s an important goal for the care staff, who weave residents’ personal narratives into the fabric of their vibrant lives every day.
When you or a loved one are ready to tour this incredible community and meet the folks who consider it their privilege to care for assisted living and memory care residents, you’re invited to come home to Paddock Ridge.
4001 SW 33rd Ct
Ocala, FL 34474