Tulsa World, Sunday, June 26, 2016
Fine arts, high tech: Nonprofit outreach to seniors
Thomas Doughty’s painting “Landscape with Dog” may be a relatively minor work by this
Hudson River School artist, but for Patsy Warfield, it unleashed a flood of memories.
Warfield was watching as Amy Synar, director of the Grace Hospice Foundation, demonstrated
how to use a special tablet device to view images from major museums around the country.
Synar was scrolling through selections from the Art Institute of Chicago — famous paintings
such as Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” Mary Cassett’s “Young Mother,” Peter Blume’s
surrealistic “The Rock,” a still life by Raphaelle Peale — and Warfield made polite comments
about each of them.
But the sight of Doughty’s painting made Warfield reach out for the device, to pull it into her lap.
For Love & Art: Annette Skaggs (right) and Florence Schmidt laugh with Amy Synar from Grace Hospice
Foundation while looking at artwork on a digital tablet at Legend Assisted Living and Memory Care.
MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World – Matt Barnard
“Oh, let me see that one with the bird dog,” Warfield said. “We had three bird dogs. Champ was
one, I remember him. My husband was a big bird hunter, and he was always particular about his
Soon Warfield was talking about her late husband, Jack Kennamer Warfield, who served as a
Tulsa firefighter for many years, attaining the rank of district chief.
She reminisced about taking art classes as a student at Central High School, and painting
images similar to the Raphaelle Peale still-life she had just seen, and about the automobile
accident that led to her giving up her home to take up residence at Legend Senior Living, a
south Tulsa assisted living center.
“We’ve only had this device for a couple of months,” said Kristi Barnes, one of the activity
coordinators at Legend. “But every time we’ve used it, we see the same thing — people’s eyes
just light up.”
That is exactly the sort of reaction that Mark Lombard, the founder of For Love & Art, wants to
For Love & Art is a Dallas-based nonprofit organization that works to bring the experience of
visiting some of the country’s great museums to people with limited mobility, through digital
Each ArtBook contains more than 1,000 images from 19 museums, including the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York City, the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Kimbell Art
Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville,
Lombard, a former university administrator, came up with the idea of For Love & Art while
working as a volunteer for hospice centers in Dallas. He started bringing postcards he would
collect from the museums he visited and sharing them with some of the residents he would
“There was a woman I met named Miss Billie, a beautiful Southern lady,” Lombard recalled.
“She was losing strength in her legs, and I thought to motivate her by saying I would take her to
the Kimbell Museum when she was able. When it became apparent that the exercises weren’t
working, I decided to bring a bit of the Kimbell to her.”
A postcard of William Merritt Chase’s “Idle Hours,” an image of women in white relaxing by a
body of water from the Amon Carter Museum, made a profound impression on Miss Billie,
“She told me, ‘I wish I was right there,’ and she pointed to the figures sitting by the water,” he
said. “And for that moment, she wasn’t in this little room in Grand Prairie, Texas. She was idling
the hours away with her family by the lake. The art made that experience real. That’s when I
thought, why not bring this experience to other people who, for whatever reason, cannot go a
museum on their own?”
Since founding the company, For Love & Art has placed some 265 ArtBooks at facilities
throughout the United States.
“We even have some in Sierra Leone, Africa,” Lombard said.
About 30 of these books are in Tulsa, purchased by the Grace Hospice Foundation. The
foundation is partnering with Arts Alliance Tulsa to help expand the For Love & Art program in
Arts Alliance Tulsa will maintain and loan out the ArtBooks, including those that are on extended
loan to some Tulsa assisted living centers, such as Legend Senior Living.
“Our original intention was to have these virtual ArtBooks reach as large an audience as
possible,” Synar said. “But we kept hitting these roadblocks and had some problems getting the
message across to people about what this program is, and the benefits it can have.
“So we’re really thrilled about this partnership, because it will really help get the word out about
this program,” Synar said.
For Arts Alliance Tulsa, the For Love & Art program is also a way of helping to put Tulsa and its
visual art venues on a national platform.
“We’re working to make connections with local museums and galleries to be represented in
these books,” said Chad Oliverson, marketing director of Arts Alliance Tulsa. “Gilcrease
Museum is already on board. We’d love to see the collections of Philbrook, the Woody Guthrie
Center and others be a part of this, as it will introduce the country and the world to Tulsa’s arts
and culture in a unique way.”
AAT is also working to develop a roster of volunteers to be trained in using the ArtBooks to
serve as docents at the various venues where the books will be used, to make using the
ArtBook more of a true experience, rather than just looking at pictures.
“When you look at a piece of art,” Lombard said, “the reaction you have comes less from what
you see and more from your thoughts, emotions and memories. My goal is to provide that kind
of experience to people who don’t have easy access to art and museums and galleries, so that
they can express things that are important to them. That’s the ‘love’ part of For Love & Art.”
James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478