Within minutes of meeting Joyce Lowenstein in her Midtown home, surrounded by stunning fine and decorative art collections, her warmth and innate curiosity to learn become obvious. They are the core of this remarkable woman’s personal philosophy.
Proudly giving a thumbs-up to a graduation cap topped with the words “I’m Done” posted on her door reminded her family and friends arriving for her post- graduation party that she certainly had achieved a major life accomplishment by receiving her bachelor’s degree in art history May 9 from Georgia State University.
Perhaps because Lowenstein is 93, reaching that lifetime goal was even more impressive.
Lowenstein’s love for art took root in the 1950s, spending time with The Art Students League of New York’s summer school program near Woodstock, N.Y., while her two daughters were at camp in Maine. She also took drawing lessons in Sands Point, N.Y., with classes taught by Frank Kleinholz.
Around 1973, Lowenstein and her husband, Larry, sold their New York City apartment to start a new life in Atlanta, where Larry found a public relations job opportunity in a city they both came to love.
When friends remarked, “You’re so brave to move to a strange place,” Joyce answered, “To me, it was an adventure.” This sense of not being afraid to try something new manifests itself over and over again in Joyce’s decision-making process, such as when she enrolled in the GSU-62 program that offers waivers for tuition and certain fees for students 62 and older.
Perhaps Lowenstein’s love for collecting antiques began when she saw her mother’s hand-painted porcelain vases, one of which is part of her current decorative arts collection. Throughout her life she pursued an intense interest and career in antique furniture and accessories, while working as an interior designer for private clients. In Atlanta she owned a highly respected antique shop concentrating in the Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods. She was represented for many years in a popular showroom at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, where she brought for designers and their clients containers of traditional antiques and accessories collected on her many trips to Europe. A stop in England was always a must for antique wooden boxes of all periods, for which she became known.
One art history course project she particularly enjoyed at GSU was to find a building that had Greek or Roman architectural designs. She chose The Temple, using 50 of her photos to add to her detailed report. When asked, she admitted she received an A on that project, as she did on most of her other coursework, so that she graduated GSU with honors.
When I mentioned that I hadn’t learned how to use my new digital recorder for our interview, she said, “Where is your iPad?” She told me that is how she recorded all the lectures and took photos, yet she also took handwritten notes. Because she was able to secure permission from the GSU Disability Services office, she could bring the iPad into the classroom and was allowed extra time to take exams. During the course of seven years, she only used that accommodation once.
With her college goal completed, you may find Lowenstein at the High Museum of Art, perhaps attending a monthly Mystery Book Club gathering, or dining with friends from the Ansley Park area. Whatever she does with all her newfound free time, she will continue to use her curious and engaged mind to inspire others that education is a lifetime journey.