Reason to Hope Chicago Co-Chair: Marty Wilke

The health and safety of our volunteers, staff and all of our constituents are our top priority as we continue to pursue our mission. Given the evolving nature of COVID-19 and based on the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC, Chicago Reason to Hope originally planned for April 22nd will be rescheduled.

My relationship with the Alzheimer’s Association began in 2010. I was invited to attend the very first Reason to Hope luncheon in Chicago, honoring WGN Radio legend, Wally Phillips and his family.  At the time, I was the General Manager of WGN-TV and attended as both a representative of the WGN/Tribune family and my own family – as my Dad, Cliff had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This Reason to Hope luncheon was where I first learned of the critical mission of the Alzheimer’s Association and how they were working to provide resources, education and hope to families affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.  I left that very first Reason to Hope luncheon newly inspired and hopeful for the future, for families like mine.

I was also impressed by the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the luncheon – in just one hour, Reason to Hope had changed my view of Alzheimer’s and inspired me to become a bigger part of the mission.  I knew immediately that Reason To Hope was an event and an experience that I wanted to share with others in order to do my part to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s. 

In 2011, I became a Reason to Hope Table Host and invited friends and family to join me. The following year, 2012, I chaired the Reason to Hope Chicago luncheon and shared my Dad’s story with the Reason to Hope community. I have and will continue to support Reason to Hope through the years as a Table Host.  Last year in 2019 and now again in 2020, I am proud to be Co-Chair of the Reason to Hope Chicago luncheon.

The first time I attended Reason to Hope it was clear that I was now a part of a bigger community through the Alzheimer’s Association. Through the years I have seen Reason to Hope grow through the dedication and expanding roster of Reason to Hope Table Hosts.

When our Table Hosts invite their friends, family, co-workers, colleagues – they help create and grow this community within Reason To Hope – a community that shares the common goal of a world without Alzheimer’s.

In addition to Reason to Hope, I have embarked on several other endeavors as a part of my fight against Alzheimer’s. I have participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Chicago with my family in honor of my Dad and his caregivers.  I also participated in the Alzheimer’s Association family forum education program, and caregiver support groups. As a representative of the Illinois Broadcasters Association I have partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association to promote the Silver Search program to protect endangered missing persons through a state wide awareness campaign.  I currently serve on the Silver Search Task Force and have most recently joined Illinois Women Conquer ALZ.

What gives me a reason to hope is the mission and strategy of the Alzheimer’s Association. As the world’s leading voluntary health organization, funding Alzheimer’s care, support, advocacy and research gives me HOPE!

I have benefited from the Alzheimer’s Association mission, I have embraced the mission, and will continue to participate in the mission by raising awareness and funds to help achieve the goal of a world without Alzheimer’s!

If you want to become a part of the fight against Alzheimer’s, join us at the Chicago Reason to Hope on 4/22 or the Oak Brook Reason to Hope on 4/3!  Become a Table Host and invite your circle of friends or colleagues to listen and learn about the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association and embrace the Reason to Hope community.

Or if you cannot join us this year, go online and donate to the Alzheimer’s Association Reason to Hope. 

Learn more about Reason to Hope

Unforgettable Art New Artist Spotlight: Devan

The health and safety of our volunteers, staff and all of our constituents are our top priority as we continue to pursue our mission. Given the evolving nature of COVID-19 and based on the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC, Unforgettable Art originally planned for April 25 will be rescheduled.

Unforgettable Art is an annual event put on by the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. A lively evening filled with creativity, artists convert blank canvases into beautiful works of art in front of your eyes. Featuring live music, appetizers and drinks, there is no shortage of entertainment making this evening truly unforgettable. The artists donate their time and talents for this event, ending with a live auction of all artwork. Proceeds benefit research, advocacy and resources for those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. To showcase these wonderful and dedicated creators we are featuring our first NEW Unforgettable Artist Spotlight!

“My name is Devan and I am a self-taught artist who specializes in marker art. My art is inspired by the textures of Van Gogh, the style of Dr. Suess, and the colors of Peter Max. I combine the style of these famous artists to create a unique style of my own. I primarily use Sharpies but also have branched out to using Prisma and Copic markers too. I use the markers in a way that I have yet to see another artist do, I carefully layer and time my creating process to create one of a kind textures. I use these textures to make everything from ethereal nature scenes, beautiful women, and one of a kind cartoons. 

“Void Vixen”

I have been a professional artist for 10 years. My love for markers started when I began my career as an artist. I wanted to do something different based on my favorite artist Van Gogh, so I came up with the idea of creating textures with markers. I started taking commissions at 17 years old, wrote and illustrated a children’s book when I was 20 years old (this book is still not seen by the public), and started my first online store at the age of 21. During this time I spent countless hours practicing with the markers, slowly teaching myself new textures. I also taught myself how to draw 150 different animals; everything from different species of cats, dogs, and birds to exotic animals like alligators, giraffes, and sloths.

I decided to participate in Unforgettable Art: An Affair for Alzheimer’s because I wanted to give back to the community. I decided a few years ago when I first started doing art shows to find a way to use my art to give back to the community at least once or twice a year. My family and friends are always looking out for new opportunities for me to showcase my art. One of my parents found this event and while it specifically asked for painters, I applied anyway. I have a few family members that suffer from this disease so it means a lot to me that I was accepted. 

“Typical Tuesday”

While my art is my main focus I do find time to enjoy some hobbies. I like to consider myself a hippie, so I enjoy going on nature walks when the weather allows, usually I take my cat Punkin. Punkin is my best friend and has been my rock through my ups and downs of dealing with depression and anxiety. I have also been able to deal with my mental illnesses through my love for live music, I’ve seen over 50 bands/musicians, each time dealing with the crowds gets easier. I also love to hang out with my two best friends, we are always finding something fun to do, even if it’s just some good food and great conversation. I live a pretty simple life for the most part – just enjoying all the little things and making beautiful art.”

We are beyond thrilled to have Devan on board as one of our new artists this year. Find more information and images of Devan’s work below: 

Devan’s website

Devan on Facebook and Instagram: @devantheartist

Email: devantheartist@yahoo.com

Tickets to Unforgettable Art

Unforgettable Art Artist Spotlight: Nadja Schutt

The health and safety of our volunteers, staff and all of our constituents are our top priority as we continue to pursue our mission. Given the evolving nature of COVID-19 and based on the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC, Unforgettable Art originally planned for April 25 will be rescheduled.

Unforgettable Art is an annual event put on by the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. A lively evening filled with creativity, artists convert blank canvases into beautiful works of art in front of your eyes. Featuring live music, appetizers and drinks, there is no shortage of entertainment making this evening truly unforgettable. The artists donate their time and talents for this event, ending with a live auction of all artwork. Proceeds benefit research, advocacy and resources for those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.  To showcase these wonderful and dedicated creators we are featuring another Unforgettable Artist Spotlight – Nadja Schutt. 

A lover of color and texture from an early age, Nadja opened her first shop in 2009. Fresh out of art school, NASchuttDesign took shape and Nadja commenced her journey of creative expression. Featuring handcrafted works of art in the form of brooches, pendants, bracelets and other wearable bead sculptures, Nadja began perfecting her craft. After several years of success in the beading trade, Nadja’s art began to diffuse across mediums. She began to paint on silk, a practice she learned from her Oma (grandmother) in Germany as a child. Her silk work featured intricate floral designs, inspired by her love for her grandmothers. 

“As time progressed and the matriarchs in my family began to move into the next stages of life, the concept of home and memories began to take form in the current Haus and Window Watcher series. Brilliant colors and playful expressions are intimate takes on past and present memories”. Nadja seeks to capture the everpresent drive for exploration that she believes sticks with us from childhood with imagery of joy, playfulness, and happiness. 

Nadja attributes much of her artistic influence to her late grandmother, Bonnie Schutt. A frequenter of her grandmother’s in-home craft room, Nadja discovered her love for colorful creation at a young age. Together they made scrapbooks, decorations, and painted small figurines. As she got older and became an artist, Nadja’s grandmother was her go-to helper when it came to preparing for craft shows. 

The artistic assistance diminished when Bonnie began to show signs of dementia. Nadja remained a dedicated crafting partner and still visited for craft room adventures and brought her grandmother along to the craft store for mini field trips. Eventually moved into a memory care facility, Bonnie continued expressing herself through art by participating in all of the group art projects that she could. A creative and passionate soul was lost when Bonnie passed due to complications of dementia in 2017. 

Later that same year, Nadja discovered Unforgettable Art and became one of our incredible and dedicated artists. “My Grandma was a very creative person, I couldn’t think of a better way to remember and honor her than by taking part in Unforgettable Art”. You can check out her work and learn more about Nadja’s art here, or visit her on Instagram @naschuttdesign. 

Tickets to Unforgettable Art

Unforgettable Art Artist Spotlight: Todd Lorenc

The health and safety of our volunteers, staff and all of our constituents are our top priority as we continue to pursue our mission. Given the evolving nature of COVID-19 and based on the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC, Unforgettable Art originally planned for April 25 will be rescheduled.

Unforgettable Art is an annual event put on by the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. A lively evening filled with creativity, artists convert blank canvases into beautiful works of art in front of your eyes. Featuring live music, appetizers and drinks, there is no shortage of entertainment making this evening truly unforgettable. The artists donate their time and talents for this event, ending with a live auction of all artwork. Proceeds benefit research, advocacy and resources for those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.  To showcase these wonderful and dedicated creators we are featuring another Unforgettable Artist Spotlight – Todd Lorenc.

Already an avid cartoonist, Todd began painting in high school. He attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, where he received his associate’s degree in commercial art and illustration. As a freelance artist, Todd focuses on music-themed paintings as well as music itself as a form of artistic expression- on his ukulele! Todd uses Instagram to showcase his work and Youtube for all things musical. You can check out his work here

A veteran Unforgettable Artist since its inception year, Todd has been making live art for the event dating back to 2003, as well as providing ukulele performances to open the night. He originally learned of the event through Hobby Lobby, and after little convincing decided to participate in honor of his late grandmother Emma Paluzzi Lorenc who had Alzheimer’s disease. 

To see more of Todd’s work, follow him on Instagram @toddlorencukulelemusic

Tickets to Unforgettable Art

Alone With Myself: A Tribute to Those Affected By Memory Loss

On February 28th and March 1st, Chicago-based professional vocal ensembles La Caccina and Constellation Men’s Ensemble combine forces to confront themes of memory, loss, and aging. A portion of the proceeds from all tickets sold will go to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter for the advancement of care, support and research for those affected by the disease. One of the co-founders of Constellation Men’s Ensemble, Ryan Townsend Strand, shares his connection to the cause. 

“I’m originally from Minnetonka, MN and am a graduate of Hopkins High School. I received my Bachelor’s degree in music from California Lutheran University and my Master’s of Music degree from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. I currently live in Edgewater here in Chicago. When I’m not singing, I enjoy running and being outside, experimenting with recipes in the kitchen, playing with my kitten Charlie and listening to Podcasts. My favorite vacation spot is Grand Marais, MN, a beautiful town on Lake Superior that prides itself on art, food and natural beauty. Northern Minnesota is always the place that I feel the most myself.

I’m a founding member of Constellation Men’s ensemble. In 2013, I was asked by co-founders Lennie Cottrell and Derek Boemler to join them for what then was simply getting together Saturday mornings to sing and then share a beer. The organization was incorporated as a non-profit in 2015 and I was appointed as its executive director in 2016. Since then, I’ve founded our NOVA new music series, produced over a dozen concerts, and sung each season with CME. It is a highlight of my musical career.

The inspiration for Alone With Myself comes from my experience with Alzheimer’s disease. Both of my grandparents, Jone & Charles Gedge, or Nana and Papa as I knew them, were huge supporters of me and music even from a young age. Some of my first memories of them include being asked to play piano at their house. They lived on the North Shore of Chicagoland for many years and we would often take family road trips to visit them. When they retired to Naples, Florida our visits were even more iconic with mini-golf, dinner theater, and endless games of cards. Our bond was special. I learned etiquette, respect, passion and family values. By the time my grandfather was diagnosed with dementia, I was in college in California. I began to take up writing postcards when I could, following in my Uncle Skip’s path who wrote his father, my Papa, one postcard per day for years until the day he died. 

Visits were far more erratic, with his behavior often landing him in trouble with the assisted living staff. He was always a jokester, but there was an unrecognizable person making jokes at the expense of others rather than inviting people to laugh with him. My Nana began to experience innocent visions, often telling us of a little girl who would appear. Over the summers after my grandfather’s death, I often would make time to be with my Nana,  but she was far more fragile, unsure of herself, and much time was spent explaining situations to her to keep her from being confused. So much of their life consisted of gifting me experiences and teaching me things that it felt like a closing of the circle to be the one giving experiences to them and explaining things to them. I’m forever grateful for my relationship with both of them before they passed, but the loss of self was never easy to swallow.

When we came together over a year ago to discuss the second collaboration between La Caccina and Constellation Men’s Ensemble, the energy was palpable (not only thanks to the coffee). I had been part of the world premiere of Rob Maggio’s The Woman Where We Are Living in 2014 with The Crossing in Philadelphia and knew that I wanted to perform the work again in Chicago. After our last collaboration with La Caccina, I knew that our combined forces would be perfect for bringing to life this complex and impassioned work. The concerts promise to be beautiful and hopeful, with powerful music at its core. Losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s or dementia is often an isolating and lonely experience. My hope for these concerts is to see people of all ages coming together in community for an experience to grieve, to pay tribute, to honor, and to process all of the many facets of memory loss. Through our ticket sales, a portion of the proceeds will be donated directly to the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter, and I would love to see us make an impactful gift thanks to our supporters.”

Tickets to Alone With Myself 

Ryan’s professional website  

Constellation Men’s Ensemble Website

La Caccina’s Website