May 19, 2020

Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation is truly fortunate because we have the opportunity to build lasting relationships with our community. Of great concern to us during the quarantine are our program participants who are the most vulnerable, as they have a more urgent need to stay isolated. Yet the isolation can bring about depression and anxiety.  

Memory Lounge, an arts program for people with mild to moderate dementia and their care partners, just celebrated its third year. Over the past three years, our participants have formed friendships, given each other support, and participated in almost every art form you can think of, from improv to dance and from pottery to painting.

Memory Lounge participants learn creative methods of communicating in an improv workshop by Chicago’s Second City. Photo: Betty Hum Photography

Typically, we would meet in the SMoCA Lounge (hence the program’s name) inside Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. The afternoon would kick off with a docent-led gallery conversation about the exhibitions, followed by a workshop led by a local professional artist. Past workshops have featured music performed by West African musicians, improv by Second City, flamenco dancing, performance art, and many forms of visual art. The vibrant art experience and the homemade cookies kept them coming back.

Artist Danielle Wood leads Memory Lounge participants in a ceramics workshop. Photo: Scottsdale Arts.

But now, during this time, we want to keep this wonderful community together as much as possible—not just so we can check in with them, but so they can check in with each other. As a result, Memory Lounge has moved to virtual workshops.  

Shannon Wallace and Charles Lewis lead Memory Lounge participants in a movement and music workshop. Photo: Scottsdale Arts.

Prior to the virtual visit, participants are sent sanitized kits that include materials and instructions on how to create a specifically designed art project. During the meeting, we look at examples of art that relate to our project for the day and engage in conversation about the process.

To date, projects have included tinfoil monoprints and collage portraits. It’s an enjoyable afternoon our folks appreciate. However, they do miss the cookies. 

If you and your loved one are interested in joining the Memory Lounge group, this program meets monthly on the first and third Fridays from 1–3 p.m. The program is free, but registration is required.  

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