Hyatt Transforms into an Art Gallery for Alzheimer’s Association

Board Chair Sarah Lorance and her husband Michael enjoy An Elegant Evening of Art benefiting the Alzheimer's Association of Colorado
Board Chair Sarah Lorance and her husband Michael enjoy An Elegant Evening of Art benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado

The annual Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making (MIM) Art Auction was held at the DTC Hyatt and raised more than $250,000 to support families living with Alzheimer’s as well as research to find better treatments and eventually a cure. This year’s theme, An Elegant Evening of Art, was well emphasized throughout the second floor lobby of the Hyatt with stunning framed watercolors created by those with Alzheimer’s disease and original works donated by local professional artists.

Many returning professionals were in attendance this year including Martin Lambuth, Margaretta Caesar, Cheryl St. John, Tammi Otis, Lisa Hut, Frances Gottlieb, Al Murphy, Jean Shom, Amy Winter, Marin Dobson, Shawn Shea, Anne Aguirre, Kay Landen, and Madeleine O’Connell. Duke Beardsley’s painting of cowboys on canvas and Roxanne Rossi’s gorgeous black and white laquer dress titled Afternoon Tea were two of the pairings that saw rapid fire bidding from the more than 550 guests during the live auction hosted by 9News anchor Kim Christiansen. Her son Tanner helped out the cause by walking the catwalk with artwork while mom shared poignant stories about the paintings and the artists who created them.

Rich and Julie Wham check out the Duke Beardsley pairing for the live auction which went to an anonymous bidder for a record $13,250
Rich and Julie Wham check out the Duke Beardsley pairing for the live auction which went to an anonymous bidder for a record $13,250

The highest bid ever for the Association was $13,250 for Beardsley’s piece paired with a watercolor of two cowboys, while Rossi’s dress and its pairing of a Red Strapless Dior Dress went to Stephen Koch and Donna Herlehey for $4100. Other high bids included: Gary and Donna Antonoff on a series of watercolors titled Roses paired with Love for Growth by artist Laurie Maves. Jim and Zodie Livingston whose successful bid earned them the watercolor titled Aspen paired with a beautiful oil painting by Margaretta Caesar.

It was an amazing evening celebrating and honoring the work of artists who paint in our Memories in the Making (MIM) program, which is offered at no cost across the state. We are so thankful to all of the sponsors and bidders in our silent and live auctions. We are also especially grateful to the families who donated the MIM watercolors as well as all the wonderful professional artists who donated an original work for pairing with an Alzheimer’s watercolor or for contributing a palette for our silent auction.

Linda Mitchell, Association CEO and Art Auction Steering Committee Chair Tom O'Donnell share a moment after hearing the total raised exceed expectations at more than $250,000.
Linda Mitchell, Association CEO and Art Auction Steering Committee Chair Tom O’Donnell share a moment after hearing the total raised exceed expectations at more than $250,000.

Other special guests attending the Denver auction this year included Sunday Mann, Susie Frey, Ted Shipman, Alex Speros, Dr. Gene Eby, Tim and Kathy VanMeter, Lisa and Ed Hut, Dick and Norma Auer, Courtney Sipperley, Leslie Liedtke, Sally Haas, Bonnie Perkins, Julie and Rich Wham, Mike Spriggs, William Brummett, Gary, Sandy and Scott Autrey, Barbara and Lee Mendel, Melinda Quiat, and Alzheimer’s Association Board members Tom O’Donnell, Tom Hurley and his wife Jeri, Adam Duerr and his wife Ali, Sid Okes and his guest Shari Gillespie, JJ Jordan and her husband Tim, Kristy Tochihara, Venetia Marshall, Chris Binkley and his wife Linda, Linda Peotter and her husband Jeff, Board Chair Sarah Lorance and her husband Michael, Association President and CEO Linda Mitchell and her husband Ken Neeper.

Linda MitchellLinda Mitchell,
Alzheimer’s Association
President and CEO
Click here to view photos from the event

Memories in the Making Art Goes Beyond the Paintbrush

The Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making® art program often enables individuals to reach outside of their dementia and paint a picture that reconnects them with a past memory. These documented memories become powerful tools that reassure family and caregivers that the essence of the individual is still there. Sometimes, long held memories emerge in the form of a painting. Such was the case for Ruth Bibbs, a Memories in the Making artist.

While at the InnovAge Chambers Center, with the encouragement of a volunteer art facilitator, Ruth was inspired to paint a picture reconnecting her to a long lost sibling.

William's Plan by Ruth Briggs, Memories in the Making Artist
William’s Plane by Ruth Briggs

When asked to describe her painting titled “William’s Plane” Ruth replied, “I was inspired to draw this. My brother flew in WWII. Although it might not have been what he flew, it inspired me. His name was William Booker and he was a Tuskegee Airman. I was very young when he was flying so I don’t remember details very well. I do know he enjoyed flying. My mother had a picture of him in a plane and she was very proud of him.”

Inspired by the story, staff members began to research Ruth’s brother in hopes of reconnecting them. The two had not been in contact for quite some time. Unfortunately, through internet research staff members discovered that William Booker passed away a few weeks after Ruth’s painting of the plane. However, the internet search for William Booker also revealed that Ruth’s painting was not the first time the Flight Engineer for the 477th Bomber Group had been immortalized through art. As it turns out, an artist by the name of Chris Hopkins created a charcoal drawing of William Booker for his Tuskegee Airman Project.

William Booker by Chris Hopkins
William Booker by Chris Hopkins

Upon learning of the connection, staff members at the InnovAge Chambers Center contacted Chris Hopkins and shared a photo of Ruth’s painting with him. Chris was thrilled when he learned of Ruth’s painting and the story behind it. He responded by telling Ruth that her painting had, “really made his day,” and he sent Ruth a large copy of the charcoal portrait he had created of William. She was overjoyed when she received the artwork, to her it was much more than a portrait.

It is stories like this that make the Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making Art Program so special. Often the beautiful landscapes or abstract watercolors come to mean so much more for the families of the Memories in the Making artists. They tell long forgotten stories, offer glimpses into a person’s past, and provide families with a treasured memory of a life well lived.

While this painting was featured in our 2013 art auction, there are many wonderful selections available in Memories in the Making Art Auctions being held in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Ft. Collins this May and June. If you are interested in attending this year’s event or sponsoring one of our Memories in the Making Art Auctions, please click here.