Dec 14, 2015


I was raised in the shadow of Alzheimer’s with nearly everyone on my father’s side and many in mother’s developing the disease.

We were taught that when Alzheimer’s arrived, it was like a death—actually worse than death.

Our parents warned us, “Don’t sacrifice your lives for us. When our time comes, just walk away.” And we believed it.
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In Loving Memory of Jean McFee Raichle – March 28, 1919 – April 19, 2015

And then Mom began to paint. The paintings were amazing.

She had never painted a day in her life yet these paintings were really good, always interesting and sometimes remarkable. And I began to understand. One look at her paintings and I immediately understood that she was still here—loving, creative and joyful. I joined her in the moment, letting go of my need for the person she used to be, instead embracing the wonderful woman who was with me now. I began to share the art with others and the reaction was always the same—delight, surprise and gratitude to experience a story about Alzheimer’s with hope and joy.

Mom passed away last April, but she continues to inspire – now with a major art exhibition.
In the first exhibition of its kind in Seattle, The Artist Within will feature surprising, delightful and inspiring art that will open hearts and minds to a different way of thinking about Alzheimer’s and dementia, enabling us to see that—though changed—those who live with dementia are still here, living with dignity, creativity and joy.

Presented in cooperation with the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, the Department of Neighborhoods and 4Culture, The Artist Within will be held at City Hall’s Lobby Gallery & Anne Focke Gallery, January 7 through February 26, 2016, 600 Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle, Monday—Friday, 7am-6pm. The Opening Reception will take place on Thursday, January 7th from 4-6pm.

Free and open to all, the exhibition will feature fascinating artwork by individuals, 60 to 101, who live with dementia. Throughout the seven weeks of the exhibition, we will present a series of activities developed in concert with community partners—catalysts for knowledge, empathy, creativity and involvement. Exploring how we can build a dementia friendly community—more inclusive, more engaging, more supportive and more hopeful for everyone whose lives are touched by dementia and inspiring us all to become better stewards of an aging population.

Marilyn Raichle writes a blog, The Art of Alzheimer’s— How Mother Forgot Nearly Everything and Began to Paint and is curating The Artist Within, an art exhibition featuring 50 artworks by 42 individuals, ages 60-101, living with dementia and to debut in Seattle in January of 2016. She also works as an arts management consultant in the Greater Seattle area.

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Wednesday, January 13th Noon _ City Hall Lobby Gallery
Exhibition Walk and discussion with Marcus E. Raichle MD, Professor of Radiology, Neurology, Neurobiology and Biomedical Engineering, Washington University; 2014 Kavli Prize Laureate in Neuroscience and Thomas Grabowski MD, Director of the Memory and Brain Wellness Center, Professor, Departments of Radiology, and Neurology; Adjunct Professor, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Harborview Medical Center University of Washington. Accompanied by artist Anna Hostvedt.

Wednesday, January 20th 12:30 pm _ City Hall Lobby Gallery
Three Seattle poets will share their experiences with dementia in a reading of their powerful and evocative poetry.

Esther Helfgott, Dear Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Diary & Poems and Listening to Mozart: Poems of Alzheimer’s
Lori Kane, The Grace of Dragons: Receiving the Gifts of Dementia Care Partnering;
Lon Cole, You Are Not Alone: Poems of Hope and Faith and alive and thankful: Life is a gift

Thursday, February 4th noon – 2pm _ City Hall Lobby Gallery
Judith-Kate Freidman and Songwriting Works will create an original song inspired by the art in collaboration with exhibition attendees.

Tuesday, February 9th _ 7pm _ _ Seattle Town Hall
His Neighbor Phil A special screening of an extraordinary new film with a compelling and heartening story about living with dementia. Starring Stephanie Zimbalist. Admission $10 with proceeds to support The Artist Within Exhibition and Programs.

“His Neighbor Phil, is indeed a great film and right on the money for accuracy in typical ‘key players’ and behaviors, reactions, approaches, beliefs, and common concerns regarding dementia. I am sure ‘first timers’ as well as those who have made their journey will resonate with the film allowing new conversations to happen, awareness to grow, and belief that we can CHOOSE to make a positive difference in how people living with dementia are able to live their lives.”
Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA Dementia Care & Training Specialist

Wednesday, February 17th 6pm Panel Discussion City Hall Bertha Knight Landes Room
Wendy Lustbader, author of Life Gets Better – the Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older will moderate a discussion about the arts, creativity and dementia.

The panel will include:
Marigrace Becker, Program Manager, Community Education and Impact, UW Medicine, Memory and Brain Wellness Center
Cara Lauer, Executive Director, Elderwise
Alice & Paul Padilla, Momentia Ambassadors
Lee Burnside MD MBA, Clinical Assistant Professor, Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Care Harborview Medical Center University of Washington Medical Director, Providence Hospice of Seattle

Wednesday, February 24th Noon _ City Hall Lobby Gallery
Taproot Theatre’s Memory Loss Classes reignite the mind with improvisation and play. They will treat us with a demonstration of how improv can tap into the creative abilities of individuals experiencing early stage memory loss.