Sponsored

Living

Aging Artist With Complicated Past Is Profiled in New Film

The public TV doc 'Almost There' starts out uplifting — then the unexpected happens


Eighty-two-year-old artist Peter Anton beckons to people walking by his booth at the Pierogi Festival in Whiting, Ind.

“I do portraits here!” he says. “Pretty please, come here?”

Anton soon points out two filmmakers who are taking photographs and asking him about some of his creations. They are going to tell the story of his life, he says. It is what he has been waiting for all these years.

Almost There, a documentary named after the 12-volume scrapbook autobiography that Anton has assembled, is the result of a years-long effort by filmmakers Aaron Wickenden and Dan Rybicky. It is currently airing on select public television stations nationwide, and it’s available via live streaming on PBS.org through Aug. 5.

You can also watch the film from this page, below.

Artist as Project

It is clear early on in the 93-minute documentary that Anton is no typical artist, if there is such a thing. And the depth of turmoil that grips his life becomes obvious the minute the filmmakers visit his home in East Chicago, Ind.

Anton, who has lived there since his childhood, spends most of his time in the squalid basement — a jam-packed, mold-infested space so putrid that Wickenden and Rybicky are forced to return wearing masks.

The two decide to take on Anton as a worthy “project,” as Rybicky says in one point of the film. They cannot get his book published, as he wanted. And they cannot solve his poverty, his health issues or his fight with city housing inspectors. But maybe they could get his artwork featured in a museum exhibit.

“We could use our skills to put a frame around the chaos that was Peter’s life,” Rybicky says.

Success, and a Setback

They make it happen: Anton becomes the talk of the town; he’s featured in local media and even scores a profile in the Chicago Tribune.

But it’s during the exhibit that a local editor finds out something the filmmakers didn’t know about Anton’s past. Watch the film to find out more about this complicated man and his compelling story.

By Emily Gurnon
Emily Gurnon is the former Senior Content Editor covering health and caregiving for Next Avenue. She previously spent 20 years as a newspaper reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area and St. Paul.@EmilyGurnon
Are you one of the 1,679 readers who have supported Next Avenue in 2019?

If so, thank you. Your financial gift helps us fulfill our mission of being an essential source of news and information for older adults. Just as important, your contribution demonstrates that you believe in the value of our work. We have a lot of exciting things planned in 2020 and we need your help to make sure they happen.

Haven’t given yet? Please make a gift today and help us reach our end-of-year goal — any amount helps. Thank you.

Sponsored

Sponsored

Sponsored