Tag Archives: Van Gogh

Get “Reel”

Perhaps "Reel Mind" is an idea whose time has come here in Arizona

Mental illness impacts the lives of at least one in four adults and one in 10 children, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They’ve done the math, noting that 60 million Americans are affected. Yet mental illness gets a lot less attention than other health issues.

Depression is to autism what pancreatic cancer is to breast cancer in terms of media coverage. They’re all devastating, but society focuses too often on a few conditions to the exclusion of others. It’s a painful reality for families whose loved ones live with the equivalent of medical minorities. So I’m always eager to spread the word about lesser tackled topics.

There’s an affiliate of Mental Health America in Rochester, New York that’s working with other organizations to raise awareness of diverse mental health issues next week through something called “Reel Mind.” It’s a “theatre and film series about mental illness,” now in its fourth season. Originally a film festival, this year’s “Reel Mind” has been expanded to include an art exhibit and theater performance.

Series selections are designed to “address the social stigma of mental illness and offer the message that recovery is possible.” Each is followed by a discussion with experts in the mental health field. Series co-director Ruth Cowing says their Q & A sessions are well attended. “With this, almost everyone stays in their seat.”

“A lot of people come with their own stories or struggles of family members and hope to find information,” says Cowing. This year’s offerings cover schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and autism. The “Reel Mind” film series takes place May 8 through June 26. Perhaps those in Arizona who can’t attend will consider creating something similar for families in the Southwest.

“The Reel Mind” series opens with a documentary titled “Crazy Art,” which “tells the story of three talented artists with schizophrenia as they search for identity, acceptance and recovery.” The “study in hope” also tackles a bit of art history, considering how artists like Van Gogh created brilliant works while in the throws of psychiatric symptoms. The screening will be accompanied by an art show called “Metamorphosis” curated by the Creative Wellness Center.

A “Reel Mind” fundraiser taking place May 18 includes a Blackfriars Theatre production of “Grey Gardens,” a musical that considers the lives of two well-connected socialites who become East Hampton’s most notorious recluses. “Grey Gardens” features book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie. I remember listening to the music many years ago after my daughter Lizabeth checked the CD out from our local library.

“Reel Mind” presents “Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter,” an Oscar-nominated documentary about “the various stages of a mother’s Alzheimer’s disease and the evolution of a daughter’s response to the illness,” on May 22. The film’s been described as “a life-affirming exploration of family relations, aging, change, the meaning of memory and love.”

A film titled “The Boy Inside: A Journey Into Autism” will be screened June 12 as part of this year’s “Reel Mind.” Filmmaker Marianne Kaplan followed a year in the life of her 12-year-old son Adam, who has a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome — capturing his desperate attempts to fit in amidst “bullies, insensitive classmates and parents with at-times frayed nerves.”

This year’s “Reel Mind” series concludes with a screening of “Search for Sanity” plus a preview of “Echo of the Past.” The first is a 1954 TV special filmed inside the Hudson River State Hospital, while the latter is a work in progress focusing on the former Rochester State Hospital. Together they reflect “shifting attitudes towards mental illness” during the “mass deinstitutionalization of the first half of the 20th century.”

Too few community supports were in place at the time, leading to large numbers of people with mental illness facing homelessness, unemployment, criminalization and other outcomes we should no longer tolerate. When series like “Reel Mind” help us increase and improve supports for people living with all types of brain disorders, they do us all a great service. Every brain is important, and every person matters.

— Lynn

Note: Explore the works and words of Vincent Van Gogh at the “Van Gogh Alive” exhibit through June 17 at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix

Coming up: Sinews, saguaro and starlight


Lynn’s library: Lives of the…

Lives of the Bloggers. It might make for an interesting book title, but bloggers have yet to catch the interest of Kathleen Krull, author of several books about the oddities and foibles of some rather famous folk.

Krull tackles the lives of presidents, extraordinary women and athletes — with wit and wonderment appealing to both children and adults.

But it’s her three titles about the lives of great artists that I’m especially pleased to count among my personal library.

Ever wondered what motivated, amused or maddened famous musicians?

Krull’s Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought) was my first foray into the series.

It’s a work at once instructive and amusing, revealing tidbits and tales about musicians of many ilks. Here are a bit of Krull’s own musings from her website…

The life stories of famous musicians — Bach, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Woody Guthrie — are familiar to many. But what were they like really?

What kind of children were they? How did they die? And what went on in between? What did they eat? What did they wear? How did they spend their money? What were their phobias, quirks, and bad habits?

Who were their “significant others”? And what did the neighbors think? (Music is not a quiet career.)

The 16 musicians profiled — with caricatures — include Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Vivali, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Stravinsky. Also Joplin, Gilbert & Sullivan, Guthrie and more.

Given the book’s emphasis on classical music, I’d like to see Krull tackle another music-related title — Lives of the Rockers. Think Elvis, Lennon, Jagger and Springsteen (but please, no Bieber).

Seems some artists are rather odd.

Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces and Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) tackles the quirks of 19 artists.

This is precisely its charm. One recognizes after reading it, as with other titles in the series, that famous folk are people too — and not without their shortcomings.

Featured artists include Leonardo, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Cassatt, O’Keeffe, Matisee, Chagall, Picasso, Dali, Noguchi, Rivera, Kahlo and Warhol and others equally diverse.

The artist who illustrates Krull’s “Lives of the…” series is Kathryn Hewitt. And Krull herself is married to another children’s book illustrator, Paul Brewer.

Writers are indeed a quirky folk.

Finally, there’s Lives of the Writers: Comedies, Tragedies (and What the Neighbors Thought) — featuring twenty writers, mostly novelists and poets.

Targets of Krull’s tattle tail trivia include Poe, Dickinson, Twain, Austen, London, Cervantes, Andersen and Shakespeare.

I rather wish that Krull had included her own profile in this one, for surely a writer this drawn to others’ oddities must have a few of her own.

So far I’ve learned only that she lives in San Diego and was fired from her first job as a teen. Seems folks at the library expected her to work rather than read all those fascinating titles.

The latest book in my Krull collection came from the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

Alas — we are left to wonder about the lives of all those fascinating dancers and actors who’ve yet to pique Krull’s curiosity. One should never peak (or peek) too soon, I suppose.

Or pehaps these stage folk are simply better than others at keeping their secrets. Certainly a lack of idiosyncrasies isn’t the issue.

But no matter. It’s always good to leave something to the imagination. As it is, these three titles will give you plenty of fodder for holiday festivities when conversations dwindle to celebrity gossip.

Your famous folk will be far more fascinating than those of partygoers enamored with the likes of “Snooki” or “The Situation.” There is a reason, after all, that no one has ever penned a book titled Lives of the Reality TV Stars.

— Lynn

One of Krull’s newest titles features the fine art of…

Note: Krull’s other works feature fascinating fare about the likes of Dr. Seuss, L. Frank Baum, Hilary Rodham Clinton, Cesar Chavez and many others. My latest Krull aquisition is M is for Music — which I picked up during a visit to the MIM gift shop. Visit her website at www.kathleenkrull.com to learn more.

Coming up: Lives of the hippies — the musical “HAIR”