True, my first Kickstarter Campaign for Mom’s art didn’t meet its goal.
I could give up and try again next year. But I sincerely think that these are paintings that need to be seen and a story that needs to be told. So I’m trying again...this time with a scaled down project and reduced goal.
It may not reach as many people as I had hoped, but it’s important to begin. If you pledged the first time, thank you. I'm hoping you will join me again. If you like the project, please share it with your friends and social media networks.
Thank you—from Mom and me.
At the age of 94 and with a short term memory of 3 seconds, my mother Jean may have forgotten nearly everything but—for the first time in her life—she paints. She has no conscious memory of painting and actively resists the idea as ridiculous. When praised for her work, she laughs and says, “I must have gotten this from your father’s side of the family.” But when she forgets to tell herself that she doesn’t “do this,” she is really good—always interesting—sometimes remarkable.
One look at her art and you can immediately see that there is a mind at work—funny, inventive, full of life and full of joy. For the last 4 years, I’ve been collecting Mom's paintings and each year I have produced a calendar featuring 12 of my favorites. First, it was just for the immediate family. Next Mom’s nieces and nephews wanted them and now it’s a tradition, connecting and enchanting our far-flung family. Soon my friends and neighbors started buying calendars and the circle keeps growing with more and more people eager to enjoy Mom's remarkable art.
I realized that the pleasure it brings to my family and friends should be available to everyone.
The 2014 Wall Calendar will be premium quality, custom designed by John Engerman,12x12 opening to 12 x24, featuring 12 of Mom’s paintings. There will also be photos of the subjects she was painting. It’s fascinating to see how Mom transforms them.
In the early years, Mom painted what she saw on the table of her painting class. When she saw a flower, she painted a flower..and quite nicely too..
The more she painted the more fanciful her paintings became. The subjects on the table—flowers, fruits, vegetables—didn’t change but Mom began to transform them into something completely unexpected and almost always alive. Gourds became dragons and flowers clowns; a cat materialized inside a vase and, in one stunning example, she completely captured the essence of a gooseneck squash with a gorgeous speckled goose with big orange feet.
Now she paints largely from her mind’s eye. More often than not they are perfectly symmetrical and tend to have a face. We never know what to expect but the art is fascinating. They provide a window into her mind, to thoughts and emotions she is unable express any other way.
How the funds will be used: The revised goal of $4,200 will be used for custom design and production/printing of the art and fulfillment of all Kickstarter fees and rewards, which will include not only the calendar but full-color note cards and high quality prints.
The art will be available for sale at my website: www.theartofalzheimers.net but you can get it here first and for less in one of the reward categories. Down the road, I hope to provide her art to Elderwise and the Alzheimer's Association to advance and amplify their messages, but first thing first…
When I tell Mom that people like her art, her reaction is one of astonishment—first at the idea that she paints and second at the idea that anyone would like it. When I tell her that people actually want to buy her work, her reaction is immediate. “They’re crazy!” But, truly, I think she would be enormously (though secretly) pleased.
TIMELINE: Printing will begin as soon as we make our Kickstarter goal with shipping in November 2013—just in time for the Holidays.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: My sincerest thanks for your interest in Mom’s art. Even if you can’t contribute, please consider helping spread the word by posting a link to this Kickstarter page on Facebook. You can also send links to everyone and everyplace you can to my Facebook page www.facebook.com/TheArtOfAlzheimers/ or the website at www.theartofalzheimers.net/
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT.
Born in 1919 to the ferociously close-knit McFee clan, she grew up happily in the small town of White Bluffs (now Hanford) on the banks of the Columbia River. Smart, funny, talented, industrious, opinionated (a family virtue) and a gifted teacher and civic-minded volunteer, Mom was a self-described “talker and joiner.” She and my father raised five children, worked hard, built a home on Whidbey Island, traveled the world and moved to Horizon House in the 90’s.
When Mom was in her early 80’s, we began to notice changes in her behavior: memory loss, increased anxiety and confusion. As Alzheimer’s runs in my Dad’s family and not in Mom’s, I confess that we didn’t pay much attention. Her memory continued to decline and we realized that the dynamic mother we knew and loved was changing. In time, they moved into assisted living—partly due to Dad’s increasing physical frailty and partly to ensure that Mom had the support she needed. (She insisted she needed none but accepted the move for Dad’s sake.)
When my father—Mom’s devoted companion of 66 years—died, we enrolled her in an Elderwise water-color class to help her pass the time. Mom had never painted a day in her life. She has no conscious memory of painting and when shown her work, actively resists the idea as ridiculous. But when she forgets to tell herself that she doesn’t “do this,” she is really good—always interesting—sometimes remarkable.
Physically fit and relentlessly cheerful, at 94 Mom lives entirely in the now—where every moment is clear and precious and lived as it comes—where everything is, to use her words, “ just delightful.”
Just like Mom.
Acknowledgements and Thanks
Elderwise – Thanks to Sandy Sabersky and the wonderful Elderwise program at Horizon House in Seattle. With their guidance and encouragement, mother continues to paint and amaze.
The Alzheimer’s Association of Western & Central Washington State Chapter for all the good and essential work they do and to Keri Pollock, Director of Communications, for her encouragement, advice and support.
Charlie Watts and William Thompson for their beautiful film about Mom and WattsMedia for their support
Ruby de Luna and KUOW 94.9 for being the first to tell her story
John Sharify for his moving and insightful story on KING5 TV
John Engerman/Bicameral Design for brilliant graphic design
Claire Douglas Beach for her generosity and beautifully produced video
Angela Nhi Nguyen for her invaluable assistance with the video.
Risks and challenges
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