The Future of For Love & Art: Donors, Volunteers, and Fans

Dear Donors, Volunteers and Fans,

You embody the future of For Love & Art in the world.

I and others are direct witnesses to the ways our volunteers interact with seniors and we’re inspired. Sometimes mothering, sometimes charming, always engaging, our volunteers’ good nature and cheerfulness among seniors, the sick and the infirm remind me of this Giacomo Balla masterpiece at MoMA:

The Volunteer Spirit

Molto bello!  Such a beautiful painting!  Balla was an Italian Futurist  and Street Light was painted 25 years before the dawn of Flash Gordon. For me, this painting hearkens one possible future of human evolution, the ultimate transfiguration of being human…if we only have the grit to get there!    Balla’s work perfectly depicts For Love & Art’s spirit:  Beautiful, pulsating light that wards off encroaching darkness.   “Being the change,” quoting Ghandi, “that we want to see in the world.”  Our goal is to alter senior care in partnership with an army of art lovers.

For Love & Art:  Using artwork to love on people and repairing the world in doing so.

To the point, volunteers shower lucky residents in our client healthcare communities with love and stoke the embers of their fertile imaginations to reclaim youth and beauty.   Donors get to take ownership of this social  enterprise by enabling its very existence (it’s never about the money and it’s always about the money).  Fans get to share about what we are accomplishing in the world.  We’re lucky to have all of you in our organization, all committed to stimulating art appreciation while empowering caregivers to love people in beautiful and transformative ways.

And that, dear reader, is the very heart of this game. We, in our own ways, get to express love – to actually be love –  by bringing beauty, causing joy, and celebrating the magic of life.

And what on Earth do we mean by “magic of life,” anyway?  Consider Gauguin’s suggestion,

“Painting is the most beautiful of all arts.  In it, all sensations are condensed, at its aspect everyone may create romance at the will of his imagination, and at a glance have his soul invaded by the most profound memories, no efforts of memory, everything summed up in one moment.”

Could “magic of life” include the summation of memory into one extraordinary moment?  Ultimately, that may be the Art Experience, being made real.

As Albert Schweitzer suggested, the tragedy of life is not death.   It’s what dies inside us while we are still alive.  Case and point:  Just yesterday, I visited one of our clients in Garland.  My friend Muriel, relatively young and vibrant, has almost given up on life. Her family rarely visits, nor do her friends from the ladies’ organizations she championed for all those many years.  Everybody’s so busy these days!  Poor Muriel is so sad and so lonely that she just pretty much curls up in bed and waits to die. I think I’m the only person that loves on her and not just providing hygiene basics.  You be the judge of her vitality as she was recently  featured in a couple of our Facebook videos.  This is the true tragedy…that the stories of people’s lives don’t automatically include happy endings.

And how many Muriels do we free daily from their own personal prisons, even if for an afternoon or morning of mutual sharing, honor, and sheer astonishment?  We claim and witness that our engagment with viewers permits the transformation of fear, loneliness and boredom into beauty, joy and magic of life.  And at what cost?

Not counting the tens-of-thousands across the country who are benefiting from the endowment of Virtual Museum ArtBooks, just in April, our volunteers visited 18 senior venues at least once a month in 31 separate visits to celebrate the Art Experience among 430 participants.  For every dollar we took in from honoraria (as a nonprofit committed to its viability and sustainability, we request a modest $50 donation per visitation), we allot nearly an equal amount in full and half-tuition scholarships, so as not to deprive cash-strapped facilities (those mostly funding solely by Medicare and Medicaid) of our extraordinary service.  We exist to serve those with limited mobility, regardless of a healthcare community’s ability to pay.  For every dollar we get, we give back 94% to the communities we serve.

Many of our partner museums’ artworks simply astound viewers and even more deeply listeners. For each interested person, every painting tells a different story.  Most participants are glad for their beauty and all are glad for the opportunity to share – to give and take with others – in ways that contribute to their understanding and appreciation of what it is to be human.

We envision the replication of our working model throughout the country.  Just in the Metroplex, we’re on track to enrich the souls of nearly 5,200 participants this year.  What possible with 10 chapters?  With 100?

We cannot do this on our own.  For those of you already committed, we request your continued allegiance to our cause.  To those uninitiated, I invite you to join For Love & Art as as volunteer, donor and/or fan.

Please email me directly if you are interested in forwarding our mission in creative ways, like starting a chapter of For Love & Art and bringing the Art Experience into communities near you, as did Arts Alliance Tulsa and Visual Arts Guild Frisco.   What better way to bring art and what art provides – mind, body and soul – to people at the grassroots in your town?

If not you, who?  If not now, when?  Predictably, many of us and our family members will face the same sad fate as Muriel…let’s not let that happen!  We are causing a great renaissance in art, not within a context of education nor aesthetic, but love.

Thank you so much for listening. I had a lot to say.

Special thanks to Richard, Seth, Oscar, Michele, Donna, Integrity Staffing Solutions, the Empowerment Society, Albert Schweitzer, Paul Gauguin and, especially, Jean for the inspiration for this blog.

*(Actually, we may be able to use this extraordinary Balla artwork as our volunteer recruitment painting – our erstwhile “mascot,” as it were, and we will seek the right to use it as such).

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2016: The Year in Review

In 2016, For Love & Art donors endowed 43 healthcare facilities across the country with custom-dedicated Virtual Museum ArtBooks, enabling grateful caregivers to boost the quality of life over 30,000 times to patients in beautiful and creative ways.

Rick & June Walsh bring a Virtual Museum ArtBook to The Little Sisters of the Poor in St. Louis, MO.

Five additional world-class museums joined our project; Virtual Museum ArtBooks now contain nearly 2,000 artworks from 20 museums partners.

A curriculum was devised to teach professional and volunteer caregivers to use Virtual Museum ArtBooks to engage patients to reflect, remember and share their experience while viewing great artwork.

Famous “Kissing Sailor” Glenn McDuffie Sharing Art & Loving Life!

Artwork triggers conversations about life’s most important matters. When sharing the Art Experience, fear, loneliness and boredom transform into Beauty, Joy and Magic of Life.

“Courting the Art Experience” prominently features artwork from one of our museum partners; shown a Renoir masterpiece from The Phillips Collection.

In 2016, volunteers logged over 10,000 miles to “Court the Art Experience” 240 times to nearly 4,000 participants in 25 senior communities across North Texas and Oklahoma.  Many participants were interviewed.

For the third year in a row, For Love & Art achieved “Top Rated” status at Great Nonprofits.  People call us “better than sugar n’ bingo!”

2017 brings new challenges and opportunities for our nonprofit enterprise. Please consider joining us as donor or volunteer to further our viability and sustainability as we use art and what art provides – mind, body and soul – to the sick and infirm at the grassroots.

As we say, “To Celebrate Art Is To Celebrate Life!”

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