Join us in exploring some special moments from ARTZ’ last ten years

I found there’s life after dementia, with dementia, that people with dementia count. And my mom’s voice is still in there

-Toya A. Community Liaison, Care Partner, and Board Member

This timeline highlights milestones that relate directly to the community members affected by dementia who make ARTZ Philadelphia the organization it is.


Launch of ARTZ Philadelphia

In July of 2013, art historian and museum educator Susan Shifrin launched ARTZ Philadelphia. Before the first ARTZ Philly program had even been scheduled, Pam E. contacted Susan to say that she and her father Phil  were eager to attend it – whenever and wherever it would take place.
Phil was a longtime creative director in one of Philadelphia’s most prestigious advertising firms who was now living with dementia. For the next three years, until Phil’s death, he and his daughter became ARTZ regulars. Phil was loved by all for his gentleness, creativity, and principled views regarding the arts. Pam and Phil were ARTZ Philly’s very first donors.

…caregiving for my father has been … one of the hardest things I’ve ever tackled and among the most rewarding. Our interactions with ARTZ Philadelphia have definitely been a reward.

– Pam E., care partner and 1st ARTZ donor


Start of ARTZ @ The Museum

Peggy and Jack W. were the life of the very first ARTZ @ The Museum program, which took place at Woodmere Art Museum in 2014. They hardly missed a program during the next four years.

Jack became the inspiration and standard-bearer for the stories of rediscovery, opportunity, and creative transformation that embody ARTZ Philadelphia at its best. He taught us that ARTZ Philadelphia isn’t really about capital-A Art, but rather about forging connections.

I go with my wife to art museums a lot because she loves it.  I go along… This is the first time — in my own head — that I’m thinking seriously about what’s going on here, and actually verbalizing it, because I’ve never done that… So, for the little while we’ve seen things today at the museum, I’ve enjoyed it a lot more.

-Jack W., person living with dementia


Start of ARTZ @ Jefferson

A group of ARTZ @ Jefferson students gathered around Eve G listening attentively

Eve G. was a retired social worker diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Her husband Len was a retired academic. They first came to ARTZ in 2014 and Eve was soon our resident expert on the human emotions and experiences underlying works of art we all looked at together. Len and Eve were among the first mentors for ARTZ @ Jefferson, which launched in early 2016.

Three years after she attended her first ARTZ program, Eve was still communicating her caring and empathetic character, even though some days her only language was that of her eyes and her smile. She continued to serve as a beloved mentor to health professions students until a few months before she died.

Eve has her own insights. She will come alive… She will find her own ways to say things.

-Yanique B, professional caregiver


Start of ARTZ in the Neighborhood

A simple question sparked the ARTZ in the Neighborhood project. Community member Ruby asked “How could you expect us to feel welcome if your programs are all in English?” This led ARTZ to build bilingual community programs that are generated by and for the people of the communities they are meant to serve.

It makes a difference because I’m being a bridge for the community. People feel I’m able to understand where they’re coming from because I’m from the neighborhood.

-Madelyne G., care partner,

community liaison,

and translator

ARTZ participants Madelyne and Ruby smiling


Start of ARTZ Notes

In 2020, ARTZ Philadelphia introduced our first music program,  ARTZ Notes. ARTZ Notes honors Carl D., who, with his wife Susan, joined the ARTZ community in 2015 shortly after he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Carl and Susan both loved music and often hosted small, intimate concerts for friends in their living room. After Carl passed away in 2020, we created ARTZ Notes to reflect the same warmth and intimacy of these home concerts for members of the ARTZ community affected by dementia, and to celebrate Carl’s determination to live a full and meaningful life, augmented by the arts – despite his diagnosis.

How wonderful it’s all been….it’s really changed me, given me an opportunity and a sparkle that I didn’t have before.  If there weren’t this [program] I do not know what I would have done.

-Carl D., person living with dementia


Completion of Community Mural Project

In 2022, two years of pandemic-era partnership between ARTZ Philadelphia and community members culminated in a neighborhood mural on the side of the Joy in the City building in the parking lot of Esperanza Health Center’s Hunting Park site. 

Community partners driving the project included our community advisory group for ARTZ in the Neighborhood; staff of Esperanza Health Center; Vocatio Career Prep High School faculty and students; local faith communities; staff and clients of Aramingo Day Center; and Mural Arts Philadelphia, with artist Betsy Casañas.

The mural celebrates the resilience, creativity, and contributions of people living with memory loss and those who love them in the Hunting Park neighborhood. It also pays homage to generations of people planting and sowing seeds of change for the better in Hunting Park.

ARTZ in the Neighborhood community members stand in front of a mural at Esperanza Health Center

The mural will be a reminder, an inspiration, it will become a part of everyone who sees it

Stephanie S., community advisor

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