The Longest Day 2018
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In My Community
Dan Brinkman - Celebrate the Success
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(left) Dan Brinkman, daughter Barbara Erickson, and grand-daughter Kileigh Erickon

Barbara Erickson is extremely proud of her Dad, Dan Brinkman.  He may be 86 years-old and have lived with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia for more than 20 years, but that hasn’t stopped him from achieving and enjoying success through Memories in the Making®, the signature art program of the Alzheimer’s Association.  Dan, who lives at Alexian Village, was one of the artists whose work was chosen for the silent auction at Treasure – a Night in Venice on June 4th.

“This is his first experience really seeing himself as an artist,” said Barbara.  “He taught 7th and 8th grade science for nearly 40 years for Bayside-Fox Point schools.  So he was always known for having really clever and creative bulletin boards.  But he didn’t paint, or do art as a personal hobby.”

Dan’s painting, titled “Flowers” was paired with “Summer Garden” by Gail Franke, a professional artist who received her inspiration from Dan’s work.  The pairing initially went on display during the preview of Treasure at the Portrait Society, during Gallery Night in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.  It was purchased that evening by two women who were seen staring at the artwork, and taking photos, all with tears rolling down their cheeks.  Those women were Barbara Erickson and her youngest daughter, Kileigh, age 17. 

“This piece represents this stage of my Dad’s life,” said Barbara.  “I can’t imagine not having his piece, and the paired piece.  It so speaks to me at where he is right now.  He’s still contributing. He can still do things and be successful. To have this painting – it meant so much to me.”

It made an impact on Kileigh as well.  Three years ago, Barbara and her daughter pulled up stakes from their life in Minnesota to move to Milwaukee to take care of Dan.  Barbara’s mother, who had been caring for Dan, became ill and could no longer care for her husband.  Kileigh saw her mother become the caregiver for both her grandparents.  According to Barbara, it was a life changing experience for Kileigh.  “He wasn’t the grandfather she remembered.   And yet, when his artwork was chosen for Treasure, it opened her heart again to him and to what he means as her grandpa,” said Barbara.  “It was just so beautiful to see her heart be so thrilled for him, that he had been successful again.  She said to me, “Mom, we’ve got to buy this! Down the road 100 years from now, when you’re gone, can I have this painting?”

Memories in the Making has provided Dan with an important creative outlet.  He paints in the moment, and feels good about what he is doing. “For me, I think the program significantly enriches his quality of life,” said Barbara.  “He produces something beautiful, it adds to his fine motor coordination, he has a sense of accomplishment and receives affirmation for his work.  This is a beautiful cycle of positivity.”


Dan and Barbara enjoy looking at all the Memories in the Making art displayed at the Spring Artist's Tea, held to celebrate the artists and their families.



Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.