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I Remember Better When I Paint

Editor’s Note: As an advocate for the arts, it’s important to me that the power of the arts for healing gets the attention it deserves. I have not seen this documentary (though it is not newly released), but it was recommended to me by a fan of one of my clients. The reviews are so impressive, and the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s is such a concern for so many, that I wanted to share it with you.

I Remember Better When I Paint, narrated by Olivia de Havilland, is the first international documentary about the positive impact of art and other creative therapies on people with Alzheimer’s and how these approaches can change the way we look at the disease. A film by Eric Ellena and Berna Huebner, presented by French Connection Films and the Hilgos Foundation. Among those who are featured are noted doctors and Yasmin Aga Khan, president of Alzheimer’s Disease International and daughter of Rita Hayworth, who had Alzheimer’s.

The Hilgos Foundation’s mission is to support and encourage the ongoing process of artistic creation with people who have memory problems and/or Alzheimer’s and who require assistance in creating art that is meaningful and enriching. The Hilgos Foundation was created in memory of Hilda Gorenstein, an accomplished painter whose career spanned 75 years. She died at age 93 and left behind her the legacy of an inspired artistic life. Choosing to call herself Hilgos, Ms. Gorenstein was known for her beautiful marine paintings, which are now in collections all over the world. She was such a skillful painter of water vessels she was chosen to paint an enormous mural depicting the history of the U.S. Navy for Chicago’s Century of Progress celebration in 1933. She completed hundreds of paintings in the last three years of her life, while she struggled with profound memory loss. The vestiges of her early, masterful renderings of waves, birds, and boats remain, but have been transformed into a new system of spontaneous, personal gestures, bordering on the abstract. The sophisticated color choices and compositions of these late works reveal how sharp her artistic eye remained up until the very end of her life.

The Hilgos Award provides student funding at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to support and encourage the ongoing process of artistic creation. The award was established by family and friends in memory of the artist Hilgos, who studied at the Chicago Art Institute as a young woman, graduated in the 1920s, and became a well respected painter and sculptor, specializing in marine themes. Hilgos painted well into her 90′s. She returned to painting with several Art Institute students even after suffering memory loss, which almost forced her to stop painting. An award has been created in her spirit and memory at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

See a gallery of Hilgos’ watercolors at the Hilgos Foundation website for inspiration and hope for those who struggle with, or who are caring for a loved one who struggles with, Alzheimer’s and/or memory loss.

The website has a link to an article with fascinating insights on the connection between art and a brain failing due to Alzheimer’s, which you can access directly here: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/creative-aging-the-emergence-of-artistic-talents/266799/

I Remember Better When I Paint has been released as part of a DVD package which includes the documentary as well as a series of short supplemental films that further highlight special programs and flesh out the how-tos of organizing an outing, a creative workshop or recreating social bonds between people with Alzheimer’s and their families.

To buy a copy of the DVD package: http://www.amazon.com/REMEMBER-BETTER-WHEN-PAINT/dp/B003UN4CIA

Learn more and read reviews and comments on the film’s website: http://irememberbetterwhenipaint.wordpress.com/about/

Be sure to check out the blog – this film is still touring 4 years after its initial release, and most screenings are free!

Aboriginal Ochre

The Aboriginal Ochre Wars
There was a time when all of Australia was a network of trading posts. And good ochre was one of the most prized items to trade. “Wilga Mia” in Western Australia is one of the most sacred ochre mines on the continent. If

you want to collect any you have to ask permission from the traditional aboriginal owners and also from the sacred beings who live beneath it’s ancient chambers. It was still being mined and traded in the 1980’s, although by the end of the 20th century it was being collected in plastic buckets instead of bark dishes.
In the Flinders Ranges of South Australia, there’s another famous ochre deposit. For thousands of years Aboriginal expeditions (70-80 men) would walk for two months to travel the thousand- mile round trip to collect their red-gold ochre at a place called Parachilna. They would return with 20 kilos of ochre each in possum or kangaroo skin bags, and on their heads they’d carry huge grinding stones from a nearby stone quarry.
Then in 1860, guess what happened, you guessed it, the white guys arrived. Farmers arrived with land and sheep ownership claims and obviously didn’t want the Aboriginals to eat their sheep or walk across their land. But the natives continued to take sheep meat for their journey and walk across their land which soon became punishable by hanging. In 1863 there was an “ochre massacre” when scores of Aboriginals were killed by angry settlers. Then someone from the South Australian administration suggested a solution! They decided to “move the mine to the Aboriginals” so they wouldn’t have to make the journey. But they moved the wrong mine. They removed four tons of ochre from a mine owned by another tribe on the coast and spent weeks hauling it back. It was a completely wasted effort because the Aborigines wanted none of it.
The white settlers missed the point that it was a pilgrimage involving elaborate ceremonies in collecting the ochre and bringing it back. Also, the sacred ochre was essential for trading which happened when one item is seen as equal in value to another. But free ochre had no value. And lastly, the sacred ochre was used for painting ritual designs and this other ochre from the coast was not good enough or sacred enough and didn’t contain the hint of mercury that made it sparkle.
• From “Color” by Victoria Finlay

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Charitable Tax Update

The House of Representatives passed a bill 277-130 to make permanent a series of charitable tax provisions.

Rep. Calvert Restores Cut to NEA and NEH

Once again, your advocacy voices made a difference. Last week, thousands of Arts Action Fund members sent letters to their Members of Congress in response to action taken by the House Subcommittee on the Interior.

California Governor Signs $5 Million Increase for the Arts

Last week, more than 1,000 California arts advocates signed the Arts Action Fund petition in less than 24 hours to encourage the Governor to sign a bill that included a $5 million increase in funding for the California Arts Council

Artwork by Andy DeWeerdt

Two pieces we recently framed for Andy’s exhibit at Belle Fiore Winery. His art will be featured through the month of July, with an artists reception on Friday, July 11 (5–8pm) and Saturday, July 12 (12-4pm).

New Art Product Program and Demonstration at June 23 SOSA meeting

sosa logo southern oregon society of artistsMonday, June 23rd at 7:00PM at the Medford Library, S.O.S.A. will offer a special, free to the public, New Art Product Program and Demonstration.

Multi-generational, family owned and operated since 1968, the La Petite Gallery evolved into Central Art Supply.  The most complete art store between Sacramento and Portland, it leaves regional artists wanting for little.

Adam Bunch will lead off the evening demonstrating his master skills and offering tips using Copic Markers. Following light refreshments, Central Art owner, Dan Ebert,  will introduce us to a variety of new products including a demonstration of Pebeo Paint.  New to me,  the finished product looks like shiny melted glass swirled together.  It’s awesome.

We are creative people…let’s explore and have some fun for the sheer joy of it!
Join us Monday evening at the downtown Medford Library at 7:00pm.

For additional information contact Alx Fox, 541.450.7092

Tell Gov. Brown of California that $5 Million for the Arts is a Great Investment!

Great news! Over the weekend, the California Legislature approved the FY 2015 budget that includes $5 million in funding for the California Arts Council.

U.S. Senate Confirms Jane Chu on June 12th

In February of this year, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Dr. Jane Chu as Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, a position that has been vacant for more than a year. On June 12th, 2014, she was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.