Creating fine art and hope: 'What I love is the dignity it gives people with Alzheimer's'

Courtesy Margaret Hartsook

At her home studio in Southeast Portland, Margaret Hartsook is at peace.

"It's my spot. I come out here, and I'm quiet, and I can just do this," the life-long artist explains.

Beyond creating her own pieces, she also teaches art therapy.

"I've always been more about the process of finding things and reflecting in that way."

She helps people find their own peace. Especially those who are really struggling, like people battling Alzheimer's disease.

"I think what I love is the dignity it gives people with the disease," Margaret explained.

She started the Memories in the Making Fine Art program in Portland through the Alzheimer's Association. Patrons, some who've never touched a paintbrush before, create art and often find a whole new part of themselves.

"Despite the decline in so many other areas, they often feel so proud," she said.

And for good reason. Much of the art created at Memories in the Making is really good.

A man named Bob created a piece of art, and Margaret did her own version which will be paired together to be auctioned off at the annual Memories in the Making gala.

Nearly two dozen professional artists are donating their work, and the money raised helps fund free programs and services provided by the Alzheimer's Association.

"I have so many stories and I've met so many amazing people," Margaret said.

And it's personal as both of her parents had Alzheimer's.

"It makes me really happy to know that the program that these precious people, these precious elders, get to be touched by beauty and by art," Margaret said with a smile.

She is thrilled it brings them the peace that she's always found through creating art.

The Memories in the Making Gala is happening on May 11, 2018. You can purchase tickets here. You can learn more about Alzheimer's Disease and local resources here.

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