‘They painted what makes them happy’; Red Cliff Gallery show to feature pieces by dementia patients

File photo shows a woman perusing artwork at Red Cliffs Art Gallery's "Spring Forward" 2017 art show, featuring artwork from dementia patients, St. George, Utah, Mar. 4, 2017 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —Starting Friday, the Southern Utah Art Guild will feature artists from the Memory Matters Utah/Nevada “Fun Art” program in their show titled “Spring” at the St. George Red Cliff Art Gallery.

In this 2017 file photo, Southern Utah Art Guild president Michael Foot points out artwork at Red Cliffs Art Gallery’s “Spring Forward” art show, featuring artwork from dementia patients, St. George, Utah, Mar. 4, 2017 | File photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

An opening reception will be held Friday from 4-6 p.m. The public can meet some of the artists and refreshments will be served.  The show will run through March 28 at the Red Cliff Art Gallery, located at 220 N. 200 East in St. George. Admission is free.

Fun Art is a local program that enriches the lives of people who are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. LuAnn Lundquist, Memory Matters Utah/Nevada founder and executive director,  said the Fun Art program is organized by Harold Tanner, a respected artist with work hanging in galleries in three states.

“For the past three years, Harold has been to our dementia activity group and area care facilities working with residents and getting them to paint,” Lundquist said in a press release. “With his enthusiasm and energy, Harold connects with them on a fun level, hence the name Fun Art.”

Tanner said that most of the participating artists have never painted before.

“They painted what makes them happy,” he said. “This is not fine art we are doing.  It is fun art. If it’s not fun, we are doing it wrong.”

Memory Matters will be displaying 18-20 art pieces by Fun Art participants from the Memory Activity Class as well as five local care facilities

“Having the public support this art showing will help reduce the stigma of Alzheimer’s and related dementia,” Lundquist said, adding that for many of the artists, even though they may have lost so much with their disease, this is something they gain. She said:

For many of Memory Matters’ clients, it is one of the only things that they feel accomplished at in this phase of life. Art is a way of expressing emotion and feelings when the area of the brain that finds words slows down. It is a new way of communicating that produces an object that brings pride and a feeling of achievement to the artist.  

Event details

  • What: Memory Matters Utah/Nevada’s Fun Art “Spring” show.
  • When: Opening reception Friday, March 8, from 4-6 p.m. Show runs from March 8-28.
  • Where: Red Cliff Art Gallery, located at 220 N. 200 East, St. George (click here for map).
  • Admission: Free and open to the public.
  • Additional information: Visit the gallery’s website.

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