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COVID & the Arts: Living Proof Anniversary

Living Proof Exhibit

A Moline-based nonprofit is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a special birdhouse project, a new art exhibit, and an online fundraiser. 

Executive Director Pamela Crouch co-founded Living Proof Exhibit in 2010, two years after her first breast cancer diagnosis. She’s now being treated for her fourth bout of cancer and is working hard to make life easier for those affected by the disease.

“ ‘Make Hope Soar: The Birdhouse Project’ was originally planned to help celebrate our 10 th anniversary. Making little birdhouses, painting them and giving them away to newly diagnosed cancer patients was one of the first programs Living Proof Exhibit did, so we wanted to bring it back. As it turns out, it’s a good thing that we did.”

“It has offered the community, not only the Quad-Cities, but we have people in Kentucky, in Texas, people across the nation, making and painting little birdhouses.”

On the bottom of each birdhouse (which are due back by Sept. 18), they ask people to include a note of hope or something inspirational, and the birdhouses will be distributed not only to cancer patients and survivors, but also perhaps to a caregiver or a family member.

“Because of the pandemic, scout groups that couldn’t work together are creating birdhouses; church groups that can’t meet are creating birdhouses. They’re each creating something that’s going to bring joy to someone who’s going through a really tough time. Right now, the stress from the pandemic is off the charts for people who have been touched by cancer.”

Credit Living Proof Exhibit
Pamela Crouch

Crouch is coordinating the next art exhibit of cancer survivors, “A Visualization of Hope,” which will be on display at the Figge Art Museum Sept. 10 to Dec. 6. It brings together art from 24 cancer survivors within a 200-mile radius of the Quad-Cities, everything from photography to painting to ceramics.

“The exhibition is the only program we have that is only meant for cancer survivors, but the feeling of hope is something we need right now.”

On September 24th, there will be a virtual reception, with registration at figgeartmuseum.org. The birdhouses will briefly be on display at the Fi8gge during that week.

“One of the things we always look forward to a gathering of our artists, that usually happens at the exhibition. This year, because of Covid, we’re not able to gather in large groups. We will be having a virtual gathering, so that means that people who normally wouldn’t be able to see this exhibition, someone who’s 200 miles away or 2,000 miles away, can join us and participate in the visualization of hope. We all need hope, we all need joy, so I hope everyone will join us Sept. 24.”

The third-annual Flourish fundraiser is Sept. 10 at 6 p.m., and all funds go to their programs, offered free to patients, survivors, family members, and caregivers, to help relieve stress through the arts. The event will be held online due to Covid.

“Flourish ordinarily would be a delightful event in person, and instead will be a delightful event virtually.”

There will be a combination of live and taped pieces, with auction items available to bid on between Sept. 8 and 11.

“Flourish has always been nurturing and joyful, and I’m happy to say even the recorded pieces are joyful.”

Patrick Adamson, an improv comedy veteran, recorded the auction descriptions. The items include a lot of survivor artwork.

“It will include a gorgeous exhibition, that is different than the exhibition that will be at the Figge. It’s outside in a private garden. Another cancer survivor let us into her backyard. You can hear the birds chirping and Denise Hnytka is the narrator, and it’s something that’s going to be beautiful and relaxing.”

Every year, LPE distributes about 1,000 art-to-go projects, since many people affected by cancer can’t get out and come to a creative session or are in a rural area where travel can be difficult in Midwest weather.
 Watercolor supplies and paper designs are packaged in a box, funded by the Moline Foundation and Business Leadership Network. For $6 postage, people can receive a box, by contacting livingproofexhibit@gmail.com.

To participate in Flourish or the birdhouse project, visit livingproofexhibit.org.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.