Hellman Visiting Artist Program
The unique Hellman Visiting Artist Program was created to foster dialogue between scientists, caregivers, patients, clinicians and the public regarding creativity and the brain.

Each year, an accomplished artist (visual artist, musician, writer or other creative individual) is invited to visit the Memory and Aging Center to learn about neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. We encourage a creative exchange between the artist and the researchers, as well as interactions with patients and families who agree to participate. The Visiting Artist also shares their creativity with the larger community through a public performance.

2016–2017 Homer and Cristina Ladas

Homer and Cristina Ladas, the 2017 Hellman Visiting Artists at the Memory and Aging Center, are exploring social movement, non-verbal communication and the brain through teaching the dance and culture of tango. Homer and Cristina started their tango obsession in 1997. Each brings with them two decades of social dance experience emphasizing a fusion of tango ideologies. Homer and Cristina have, over the years, studied with numerous teachers as well as practiced extensively with each other and many other dance partners. They have traveled to tango cities around the world, including two trips to Buenos Aires, and they are ardent students of community politics, growth, and dynamics everywhere they visit. They attempt to use this knowledge to positively influence the development of each tango community they subsequently visit. As teachers, Homer and Cristina are committed to creating a positive class environment and try to reduce barriers that may inhibit students from really finding their own dance!

Tango Workshop Dates

All workshops are on Wednesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Mission Bay Community Housing Room (525 Nelson Rising Lane, San Francisco).

  • January 11
  • February 15
  • March 8
  • April 12
  • May 10
  • June 14
  • July 5
  • August 9
  • October 11
  • November 8

Past Hellman Visiting Artists

2015–2016 Voice of Witness

There is a story inside of everyone. Founded by Dave Eggers and Mimi Lok, Voice of Witness (VOW) is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering an empathy-based understanding of fellow human beings through narrative. Their mission is to amplify the voices of unheard individuals. The VOW team helped the Memory and Aging Center (MAC) team collect and share the nuanced dementia story from the perspective of patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, family members, friends, and artists. Through this project, called hear/say, we gathered stories to help illustrate the wide range of experiences of people living with dementia. The hear/say book is available for sale at the Memory and Aging Center or online at Norfolk Press.

2014–2015 Keith Moreau

Filmmaker Keith Moreau made his first feature-length film in junior high school and since has pursued numerous artistic endeavors related to music and film. In the late 1980s as a composer, performer and major label record producer, Keith founded Pyramind Studios/San Francisco Audio Network, still one of San Francisco’s top recording studios and audio technology teaching centers. Recently, Keith was the co-producer and Director of Photography of “Butterflies and Bulldozers”—a feature documentary that played nationally, depicting the tumultuous battle over the San Francisco Peninsula’s own San Bruno Mountain, along with reasons to save it from destruction. “Sharing Artists Sharing” is another of Keith’s films currently in production—a feature-length documentary film revealing the fascinating art, motivation and lives of artists in Brisbane, California. His recent work includes “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill–Special Edition DVD” and “Alcatraz Remembrance, Ohlone Presence: Indigenous Renewal,” “Keeper of the Beat,” “Going the Distance,” and a short film celebrating art and the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, “International Orange—The Bridge Re-Imagined.”

2013–2014 Geoff Hoyle

Geoff Hoyle trained with Marcel Marceau’s teacher, Etienne Decroux, in Paris, developing his unique physical bravura comic style, a combination of court jester, vaudeville and English music hall comedian. He made his mark in the Bay Area as the Pickle Family Circus’ beloved clown, Mr. Sniff. Later, he created the critically acclaimed “Feast of Fools,” featuring masked Commedia Dell’Arte characters including the libidinous and elderly Pantalone (Hoyle claims he will no longer need to use a mask for this one), Il Dottore and the prat-falling Arleccino. It is a depiction of Everyman striving for dignity in the face of a multitude of struggles, big and small, that is not unlike Hoyle’s own search for meaning in his hit solo show, “Geezer.” His award-winning shows “The Convict’s Return,” (about taking “Feast of Fools” to Broadway and its mixed reception there) “Geni(us)” and “The First Hundred Years” (an improbable history of comedy) have been seen in San Francisco, Paris, London, Berlin, Taiwan, New York, England and the former Soviet Union. He created the original Zazu in the Broadway cast of “The Lion King” and appeared regularly with Teatro Zinzanni.

2012–2013 Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield, prize-winning poet, translator and essayist, is the author of seven collections of poetry and the editor and co-translator of four books containing the work of poets from the past. Her work appears regularly in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, and other journals and can be found in the 2013 editions of The Best Spiritual Writing, The Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her poetry speaks to the central issues of human existence—desire and loss, impermanence and beauty, the many dimensions of our connection with others and the wider community of creatures and objects with which we share our lives. Her subjects range from the metaphysical and passionate to the political, ecological, and scientific to subtle unfoldings of daily life and experience. Among numerous honors, in 2004 Jane Hirshfield was awarded the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by The Academy of American Poets, an honor formerly held by such poets as Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop. In 2012, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy and received the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry.

2011–2012 Heidi Clare

Heidi Clare is widely acknowledged as the best old-time fiddler currently performing. Her style and the material that she chooses to perform keeps alive the hundreds-years-old traditions established by immigrant fiddlers (mostly European) who came to America starting in the seventeenth century and established the fiddle as a major American instrument for folk dancing, Appalachian ballads and hoedowns, and bluegrass breakdowns. She does it all and applies the muscle to her performances that has been indicative of the hard working pioneer farmers and stock men and women who carried the traditional sounds of the instrument into modern times. She not only plays the music that drove the raucous dances of those pioneers but dances the steps as well. She has performed all over the U.S. with her own band as well as with the Reeltime Travelers, which also recorded the sound track of the movie Cold Mountain. Unlike many of the other “folk-type” fiddlers that play traditionally oriented fiddle tunes, Heidi Clare is formally trained and holds a master’s degree in music.

2009–2011 Deborah Aschheim

Deborah Aschheim makes installations based on invisible networks of perception and thought. Her work since 2005 has explored the subject of memory, leading her to collaborate with musicians and neuroscientists on projects that are an equal mix of science and poetry. Aschheim holds a BA degree in anthropology from Brown University and an MFA degree from the University of Washington. She has received fellowships from the City of Los Angeles, the Pasadena Arts Commission, the Durfee Foundation, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She has been artist-in-residence in the North Carolina Healthcare system; at Fundacion Valparaiso in Mojacar, Spain; at Headlands in Marin, California; at Hallwalls in Buffalo, New York; at the Bemis Center in Omaha, Nebraska; and at the Roswell Museum and Art Center in New Mexico. She lives in Southern California.