“Painting in Twilight ~ An Artist’s Escape from Alzheimer’s”

October 27, 2010

“Painting in Twilight ~ An Artist’s Escape from Alzheimer’s” will be presented at the David W. Streets Gallery in Beverly Hills, CA on Friday, November 5th, 2010, 7 – 9 pm.  This exhibit, sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology and Cognitive Dynamics Foundation, chronicles Lester Potts’ transformation from a rural Alabama lumberman to a watercolor artist, having never painted before his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease.

Formerly capable man who could repair anything, Lester Potts began attending Caring Days Adult Daycare Center at a point when he could no longer put the lights on the Christmas tree or hammer a nail.  In his depression over his lack of ability, he never smiled and cried frequently.  However, at Caring Days, Lester was exposed to creative arts therapies, including watercolor painting.  George Parker, a local artist, volunteered his time there and taught Lester to paint.  Over the next four years, Lester painted about 100 watercolor paintings.  His art gave him something of which he could be proud again.  As a consequence, his behavior, mood and cognition improved and since his death in 2007, his art has been shown internationally.

As an aside, George Parker (the art teacher) had a life-changing experience of his own.  Before he began teaching art at Caring Days, he had a heart attack and was clinically dead.  He saw the light at the end of the tunnel — the standard death experience we’ve all heard about.  What was different about George is that once he was “brought back,” he told God, “You’ve obviously saved me for a reason.  Tell me what you want me to do.”  For the next 5 years, George taught watercolor painting in eldercare facilities all over West Central Alabama.  At Lester’s funeral, Lester’s son told George, “We are so grateful for all the things you taught Dad.”  George’s reply? “You haven’t seen anything yet.”  A month later, George died and we never found out exactly what he meant.  However, I would imagine the Beverly Hills exhibition of art painted by this lumberman from Pine Grove, AL must be a part of it.

Twenty-one of Mr. Potts’ paintings will be shown, arranged chronologically to show the changes in his art throughout the course of his disease.  If you can’t come to Beverly Hills, we hope to post video on Youtube after the show.

On the web:

David W. Streets Gallery

Cognitive Dynamics Foundation

American Academy of Neurology

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