South Portland artist helps bring outdoors in at Portland memory-care facility
PORTLAND — Inspired by her grandmother's experience, a South Portland artist will bring the outdoors inside for residents of a Merrymeeting Drive memory-care facility.
Francine Schrock's grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and spent time in a facility like Fallbrook Woods, which is off Allen Avenue. She said that when she was approached by Fallbrook Woods Administrator Linda Olore, she wanted to “contribute to the people” to give them something beautiful to look at.
Olore approached Schrock after hearing about her work from local musician Kate Schrock (no relation).
“I met Kate on Facebook and we communicated over the course of months and she suggested that I do a mural for Fallbrook because she does a lot of painting here, interior painting,” Schrock said. “So I met with Linda and we talked about doing a mural.”
Over the next several weeks Schrock and Olore met with residents to hear their ideas for what the mural should be.
“I had an idea in my head to bring in this arbitrary image that I made up so I brought that to the meeting and showed them my work,” Schrock said. “They went through it and said we don't like this, we like that and they found one image that was to die for.”
After residents chose the image they wanted to see on the entryway wall, Schrock brought the ideas back to her studio in South Portland and got to work painting a small-scale version.
On Monday, Schrock began the process of transferring the mural to the wall, with an audience of residents looking on.
“I want to watch and watch every single speck of it,” resident Katherine Collins said. “I can't believe it. It really is beautiful.”
While many of the residents participated in the selection of the image, some of them won't remember the process, said Kristen Anderson, life enrichment director.
“We're really hoping that they'll enjoy watching Francine paint and watching the progress of the mural,” Anderson said. “We're hoping that those images that really resonated with them, every time they see it, it will be something new and pleasing.”
Residents said they are very excited about the project and are eagerly awaiting the finished product, which will be unveiled at the end of the week.
“We've all been excited for this whole thing, we've been waiting and waiting,” resident Denise Fogg said.
Olore said it is exciting to see the residents get so involved in the process.
“For us this is a really important piece because it's something that really resonates with them and inspires them and allows them to have something that they enjoy every day,” she said.
Schrock said that residents watching her do her work is the most exciting thing about the whole project.
“I think the biggest part that impacts me is the human connection,” she said. “To me that's the most rewarding and moving thing. I just make art, I know how to do that and this is an opportunity for me to utilize that and make a difference.”