Art connecting with memory care patients; auction to benefit Alzheimer’s Association

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Two exhibitions at a Dayton gallery are shedding light on dementia, with one of them also raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Inside the Dana L. Wiley Gallery in the Front Street buildings, paint peels back layers of a grim reality.

Karen Fisher’s “The Darker Sooner” and “Connections Moments of Clarity” are the two exhibits featured in the gallery.

“I think it starts this conversation that some people are reluctant to have because it is such a destructive malicious disease,” says gallery owner and director Dana Wiley who has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s.

“Right now my mother has dementia and so my family is– we are all sort of dealing with this situation,” says Wiley.

In “The Darker Sooner,” artist Karen Fisher captures the essence of her dad and the stages of Alzheimer’s.

“We as a family slowly watched him disintegrate, become a lesser version of himself as he lost a sense of time and place and who he was and who we were. And it was very devastating to live that experience and go through that,” says Fisher.

In the final years of his life, she used painting to connect. The two would paint birds together.

“He started to talk to me as if he didn’t have the disease. It was like the pencil in his hand reached some place in his mind that accessed who he was before,” recalls Fisher. “He was my dad. I got my dad back for just that moment.”

While her dad died in 2017, she wanted others to have that moment.

“You just put a paintbrush in someone’s hand and it just reaches a place,” says Fisher.

Like she did with her dad, Karen and two other artists worked with people in memory care facilities to tap into their brains and create their own artwork.

“Artwork will actually bring out different parts of their memory that are still working and the emotional part,” says Executive Director of the Miami Valley Alzheimer’s Association, Eric Van Vlymen.

Local artists then used those paintings as their inspiration to create a piece that mimicked the original work. The more than 30 side-by-side pairings make up the exhibit “Connections Moments of Clarity.”

“There’s this connection between artist and resident,” says Wiley.

Each of the pairings will go up for auction May 15. The money raised will go to benefit the Miami Valley Alzheimer’s Association.

“Some took the idea and abstracted it. Some went in more detail. Some used it as kind of an overall feeling. It is fantastic. It is really amazing,” says Van Vlymen. “It’s a really beautiful way to bring out of them the best of what they have.”

To register for the auction, click here.

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