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Artists at D.C. Gallery Married Decades After Meeting

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Gwen Aqui and Bernard Brooks have known each other for decades but only connected as a couple recently.  They've been married for three years.
Courtney Collins
Gwen Aqui and Bernard Brooks have known each other for decades but only connected as a couple recently. They've been married for three years.

Gwen Aqui and Bernard Brooks both attended Howard University. They've known each other for decades, but they didn't go on their first date until they were both in their 60s.

"I wasn't looking for a husband at the time, so that was a wonderful surprise to me," says Aqui.

Both artists, they spend at least 40 hours a week in their home studio. Aqui paints and quilts makes dolls. Brooks paints and uses fabric to give his work texture.

They may have just found each other romantically, but Aqui and Brooks art is strikingly similar.

"The paintings are hung, and no one can determine who did what," Brooks says.

The Gallery at IONA, a senior center in northwest D.C., will feature 85 of Aqui and Brooks' pieces through August.

Brooks is in his 70s now, but he says art has always been a part of his life.

"I too was stimulated by art at an early age," he says.

Aqui agrees. She says painting, quilting and soft sculpture keep her active, but more than that, her work helps define her.

"And it’s just a part of my life, art is my life," says Aqui.

The Gallery at IONA has featured senior artists since 2007. Aqui and Brooks' exhibit officially debuts Friday evening with a 'meet the artist' reception.

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