Greater Michigan International Dementia Creative Arts Festival - Founded by SHC Member John Wood

SOC participates in International Art Festival

The first Greater Michigan International Dementia Creative Arts Festival is heading for Services for Older Citizens, 158 Ridge, Grosse Pointe Farms.

SOC has partnered with the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, to create the event, an expansion of the South Yorkshire Dementia Creative Arts Exhibition, which began in 2008. The exhibit showcases a variety of art work from people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, as well as their families and caregivers. Its purpose is to stimulate dialogue, raise awareness and banish stigma related to memory issues.

Grosse Pointe Park resident John Wood, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s, worked in collaboration with David Reid, professor and program lead of the MA Dementia Studies at the University of Sheffield, to make the international festival a reality.

“Making the art gives me a chance to come to terms with (the illness),” Wood said. “Seeing the art, seeing what others are going through, creates a dialog which makes the work successful.

“A lot of people are reluctant to talk about Alzheimer’s,” he continued. “To be shut away like that is hard. You just get more and more isolated. I put my work out there to show people it’s not as scary as they think it is.”

Reid agreed. “Creating art is a failure-free experience for those with memory loss issues and having it displayed gives them a moment in the sun. It provides a powerful message to society about the talents they still have, despite any cognitive issues.” 

Wood’s work has been featured in the UK show and he had the vision to make it international.

“The greatest thing about being involved in the show and the festival is making a difference in people’s lives,” Wood said. “Other artists helped me so much by seeing their work. Just to know you reached one person makes it worth it.”

This year’s theme, “The Senses,” demonstrates how the senses can excite memories. The exhibit opened May 7 in the UK. Art from several Detroit-area artists is featured in the show, which remains on display through July. Work by artists from South Yorkshire will be shipped to the United States for SOC’s exhibit.

The U.S. exhibit opens at SOC Wednesday, June 25, and includes an opening reception with the artists, music by Surfer Joe Productions and a classic car show coordinated by the Veteran Motor Car Club of America. Live painting and art and music therapy demonstrations, a resource table and custard from Wally’s Ice Cream truck also are planned for the opening.

Other activities are planned throughout the festival, which runs through Friday, Sept. 30.

“Images of Sound with Lonnie and Clyde — Poetry Reading,” 12:45 to 1:45 p.m. Thursday, July 14. Writer Lonnie Hull DuPont reads her original poetry while musician Clyde McKaney plays a variety of classical, folk and pop pieces on viola.

 “The Benefits of Art in Healing,” 12:45 to 1:45 p.m. Thursday, July 28, with Asha Shajahan M.D.

Benefit concert 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church, 16 Lakeshore, Grosse Pointe Farms. The concert features Carol Ambrogio Wood, Diane Schoff, Brian LeDuc, Miroslav Manovski and John Pavik. Funds raised support art therapy programs at SOC.

This fall the exhibit moves to the Charles Schridde Gallery, 15322 E. Jefferson, Grosse Pointe Park, where it will be displayedThursday, Oct. 6, to Sunday, Nov. 13.

“We all need to know we’re still part of a community,” Wood said. “With the Alzheimer’s Association or SOC, people can find something that works for them. There are so many different ways people are diagnosed or suffering. To get to that resource can really help. Having a support group is huge. To be able to sit in a room and talk openly is huge. The less alone you are, the better off you are when you’re going through tough times.”

For more information about the exhibit or support at SOC, call (313) 882-9600.