“Minds on Art” – Week 2

A question to my mother about the present led to unexpected revelations from the past.

I’ve been telling myself for weeks that “Minds on Art” would be good for my mother. Turns out, it’s been good for me too.

This revelation should not have been the surprise that it was, since, only a week ago, I wrote the following paragraph in a post for this blog:

CroppedHandsonArt“Now in its third year, “Minds on Art” is an opportunity for those with dementia and their caregivers to replace their day-to-day stresses with a few hours of socializing and fun in one of America’s finest art museums.”

Intent on making sure that my mother was enjoying herself, I managed to forget that the words, “and their caregivers,” apply to me. (Providing elder care is a job I share with my two sisters and brother.) Ironically, it was my mother who corrected my focus.

It happened after the second session of “Minds on Art” at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). We were relaxing on the back porch of my parent’s house when I cheerfully asked my mother, “What are you getting out of the program?” Without hesitating, she asked:

“What are you getting out of it”?

Caught off guard, I sputtered that I get pleasure watching how she seems to enjoy analyzing and discussing works of art with the other attendees, and then creating something herself.

Upon further review, it’s clear that “Minds on Art” feeds my appreciation for art, too.

During the first week, for example, I offered comments about the two paintings we were asked to analyze during the group discussion.

This week I decided to keep quiet, believing that engagement is intended more for the home care recipients than for us caregivers.

After this week’s group discussion, however, I could not resist chatting with the museum facilitator about the painting “Syria by the Sea,” by Frederick Church. The facilitator, Mary Martin, confirmed the interpretation I had about one section of the piece, and offered another possibility. CigarHolder

Afterwards, in the clay studio, the objects we’d made last week were on display. Someone said that my cigar holder could also be a pipe holder. “Looks like a hot dog holder,” someone else offered, and that got a laugh from the group. I’m looking forward to painting my odd-looking creation, and discovering whether it’s best for cigars, pipes, hot dogs or something else.

Back at the house, I acknowledged my personal enjoyment with the program to my mother, who said, “I’ve always loved art for itself.”

Growing up, she said that her parents had art on the walls of their home on Hendricks Street in Detroit’s long-gone Black Bottom neighborhood. Actually, it was photographs of relatives that she remembers, “and they weren’t little bitty ones, either.”

This was new information to me. I wanted to learn more, but then she launched into a different story. It centered on photographs and relatives, but she got some facts mixed up, and it took me awhile to figure out who did what to whom.

Someday I’ll get back to those photographs on Hendricks Street. I don’t know where the story will lead, but I do know that it will owe it’s start to “Minds on Art.”

 

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James E. Kenyon

James is the publisher and editor of Page One Post. He was a newspaper reporter in Detroit and Norfolk, VA, before working in the corporate communications departments at a number of Michigan companies. His last stint was 18 years at Chrysler Corporation, where he handled media relations, product and marketing PR and speech writing. He retired from Chrysler in 2007. He enjoys listening to jazz, good cigars and bourbon Manhattans, often at the same time. He and his partner, Melba, live in Detroit's Rosedale Park neighborhood.