When emcee Kim Christiansen asked how many of the 800 attendees at this year’s Memories in the Making Art Auction were new to the event, at least half raised their hand. Admittedly, there was a curiosity factor that helped sell tickets—this was the first event ever held at the Denver Broncos’ brand-new fieldhouse, and former and current players and coaches were there. Pat Bowlen’s daughter Beth Bowlen Wallace was event chair. But even those who may have come for the Broncos factor inevitably were drawn into reason for the event: the incredible talent of the Alzheimer’s-afflicted artists and their poignant stories.
The evening began with a cocktail reception and extensive silent auction of the displayed artwork of 100 artists from the Memories in the Making program—individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. Some paintings were paired with the work of a professional artist. The auction also included a collection of palettes creatively painted by the pros, and there was a small selection of reproductions of displayed artwork—those who missed out on a silent-auction favorite could own a replica for a $50 donation. Epicurean Catering servers circulated with passed hors d’oeuvres, and there were a number of buffet stations lining the vast dining area, along with fully stocked bars.
Event chair Bowlen Wallace spoke to the crowd about her father and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, asking the crowd to remember his accomplishments rather than his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Then auctioneers Chuck and Bryson Miller entertained the crowd and enticed high bids during the live auction of artwork. Among the pieces up for bid was a Pat Bowlen tribute to his Broncos success story, created by iconic Denver sports cartoonist Drew Litton—amazingly, the cartoon was published the day before the public announcement regarding Bowlen’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The signed artwork, which became the signature piece of the event, was purchased by Bowlen Wallace for $7,000, while Litton looked on in the audience. At auction’s end, dessert for this crowd was nothing short of spectacular: a 5×5-foot opera cake donated by Bar Red.
Memories in the Making (MIM) is a creative art expression program for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. Some people with dementia have lost the ability to use words, and through painting are often able to express thoughts and emotions, and to share beloved memories. The MIM experience offers an opportunity for the essence of who they are and what they care about to shine through. All of the proceeds from the auction help fund programs and services at the Alzheimer’s Assocation of Colorado. For more information, please visit: alz.org/co .
Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease and often most difficult for those left behind as memories slowly fade away over what is often a 8-12 year journey.
The Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter is a safe haven for those diagnosed with the disease and for those who provide their care, mostly at home. For over 25 years, the organization’s mission has been to help individuals and family members understand the changes that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia bring while offering new ways to cope as well as create a comfortable life for the person with a diagnosis. When the Association created its Memories in the Making art program in day programs and care facilities across the state, it was clear that painting every week provided those with memory loss a place to feel a sense of purpose, to socialize with others, and engagement in an activity that keeps brain cells firing.
Soon staff at the Association realized the watercolors and the stories they represented offered a unique way to honor lives well lived and to support the work of the organization. The annual art auction not only increases awareness for the programs and services offered at no cost by the Colorado Chapter but also provides guests the opportunity to learn more about the disease and the lives of the Memories in the Making artists who create the beautiful watercolors on display each year. Each year after selecting watercolors from area Memories in the Making programs, volunteers gather donated art from local professional artists. Many of the watercolors created by those with dementia and featured in the auction are then paired with a professional work of an art. These professionals select a watercolor that somehow speaks to them with its subject, color or line. At the auction, the paintings are hung side by side in both the silent and live auction. The memories shared through these wonderful watercolors are cherished by family members who often attend the event to bid on the art of a loved one.
As usual many of Denver’s finest artists stepped up to the plate to donate their works, some of whom have a very personal connection to the disease. Among the artists who donated were Madeleine O’Connell, Cheryl St. John, Marin Dobson, Jean Shom, Duke Beardsley, Roxanne Rossi, Tammi Otis, Margaretta Caesar, John Fielder, Martin Lambuth and Lisa Hut.
The evening began with cocktails and the silent auction along with a preview of the evening’s live auction selections. One of the most popular items is the array of wooden artist’s palettes that are also created and donated by local artists. These are always a highlight, as the artist truly goes above and beyond canvas. I especially love to view the palettes first. Every year these creative works bring in a good percentage of the proceeds donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The evening was capped by a live auction emceed by Kim Christensen, 9News and led by professional auctioneers Chuck and Bryson Miller.
The Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter is the premier source of information and support for the more than 63,000 Coloradoans with Alzheimer’s disease, and the more than 229,000 family caregivers. Through its statewide network of offices, the Alzheimer’s Association offers education, counseling, support groups, Medic Alert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® and a 24- hour Helpline, at no cost to families. Families throughout the state have access to support services through regional offices in Colorado Springs, Denver, Pueblo, Durango, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, and Greeley.
For more information call 800.272.3900 or go to their web page www.alz.org/co
More than 5 million people in the US are living with Alzheimer’s. Every 67 seconds someone in the US develops Alzheimer’s. Alzheimers is the 6th leading cause of death in the US. 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s of another dementia. In 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion.
With those staggering statistics, it’s almost a given that you, someone in your family, or someone you care about has or will develop Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. Although great strides are being made into research and treatment, it is a continuous battle.
To help raise funds to fight this prevalent condition, some very talented artists and supporters donated their work, time and commitment to the series of Memories in the Making Art Auctions across the front range.
The Colorado Springs event took place on Friday at the Antler’s Hilton, and there were some magnificent opportunities to not only pick up a great piece of artwork, but most importantly, support the cause.
Guests mingled, perused silent auction items and many had the signature red cocktails in hand. Auctioneer Kevin Holt acted as emcee and auctioneer extraordinaire, and before the fun bidding and other fundraising games took place, Event Chair Charlotte Long thanked everyone for their support. Carol Neve gave a stirring speech about how Memories in the Making and the Alzheimer’s Association gave her and her late husband Dick such comfort and confidence.
Crisp bidding for beautiful art pieces was the highlight of the evening and guests knew that they not only would be taking home a brilliant art piece, but a memory as well.