GARDINER — September is Alzheimer Awareness Month and Monkitree will open “Is This My Milk?” on Friday, Sept. 27, showcasing the works of three artists who have recently experienced caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

The public is invited to meet the artists at the opening reception from 5:30-9 p.m. Mary K, Jeff and Denae Spencer express their feelings surrounding their experiences with Alzheimer’s in a range of media including ceramics, photography and sculpture.

Hands and question marks are recurring symbols in this body of work. Denae Spencer explained, “Many hands are needed to help daily, questions constantly arise … Is this the right thing to do? Who am I? What is your name?”

Mary K Spencer has created a ceramic cup for each day her mother asked the question, “Is this my milk?” Over 400 cups represent each day she cared for her mother.

“Taking care of my mother, who had Alzheimer’s, was both a trying and wonderful experience,” Mary K explained, “one I would do again in a heartbeat. The artwork for this show reflects the trials, triumphs and humor of my experience.”

Mary K has been creating pottery since 1983. She honed her skills working for a production pottery studio in Maine. She is skilled at painting with glazes on stoneware and creates several patterns of functional stoneware pottery.

Jeff Spencer is a self-taught artist who has been working with Mary K from the time they opened their very first pottery studio. His pieces in this show incorporate the mediums he enjoys working in: wood, iron and clay. He has collected iron from old barns and home sites where he has done restoration work.

Denae is a senior art student at University of Maine at Augusta and is an assistant in her parent’s pottery studio. Growing up in an art world, Denae has experienced many different types of art, but mainly focuses on digital art and ceramics. Her experience with caregiving allowed her to focus on the therapeutic and healing qualities of art. She now plans to focus on Art Therapy in her future studies.

As Jeff explained, “This journey brought many emotions — compassion, joyfulness, hopefulness, concern, sadness, and anger. One emotion that will never be forgotten is to be truly humbled. This blessing will never leave my experience.”

The emotions experienced have inspired this family of artists to honor their loved one and share the range of their experience in this body of work. Monkitree will donate 10 percent of the sales of artwork the night of the opening to Alzheimer’s Care Center Adult Day Care.

Monkitree is at 263 Water Street. The opening coincides with Walking the Beat, an evening of music in downtown Gardiner. Monkitree will host acoustic guitar player Tom Douglas.


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