‘Art on the Brain’: Exhibit showcasing artists with dementia is back

  • By TABITHA REEVES The Winchester Star
  • Feb 2, 2024 Updated Feb 14, 2024

WINCHESTER — For the first time since the pandemic, the Adult Care Center of the Northern Shenandoah Valley is bringing back “Art on the Brain” — an exhibit showcasing artwork by those with Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.

The show’s resurgence will feature about 80 art pieces, according to Dawn Clarke, administrative assistant at the nonprofit center on North Cameron Street. Some of the featured work has taken up to a year to finish, Clarke said, and around 99% of the art is a collaboration among several participants.

“Not everybody with the disease can really express themselves very well,” activity director Whitney Lan said. “But during art you can see the person’s personality. You can see what they are trying to tell you.”

This is why the staff at the Adult Care Center doesn’t provide specific instructions or lessons for the participants, Lan explained. They are free to use a variety of materials on their canvases to add texture — a popular one being bubble wrap — as well as paint with brushes, crayons, pens, their fingers and beyond.

“Art affords individuals opportunities for creative expression and personal decision-making,” Clarke said.

Each team member plays a role in the exhibit, from the head director to the volunteers, Lan said, which is crucial to making the showcase an annual occurrence once more.

The center, which celebrates its 30-year anniversary on Feb. 14, is a “vibrant day program for individuals unable to stay by themselves,” according to Clarke.

Alzheimer’s — the center’s most prevalent diagnosis — affects about 10.5% of Frederick County residents age 65 and older and about 11% of Winchester residents in the same age group, according to a 2023 study by the Alzheimer’s Association. About 164,000 people within that age range in Virginia have the disease.

“Art on the Brain” aligns closely with the Adult Care Center’s goals of providing healthy recreational and therapeutic experiences for those who need it. Their website boasts having served over 500 community members from age 23 through 100.

“Art on the Brain” will take place Feb. 23 from to 6 to 8 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 132 W. Boscawen St., Winchester. Admission is free and beverages and light appetizers will be available for visitors. Art can be purchased during the exhibition or through the center’s website at adultcarecenter.net.

“It’s a really good event to raise awareness for what we do here,” Clarke said. “There are a lot of people in our community affected by Alzheimer’s but do not know that the Adult Care Center exists.”

— Contact Tabitha Reeves at treeves@winchesterstar.com