Richmond-based artist and VCU alum Joan Gaustad (‘75 BFA, Arts) launches her new book, Someone’s Missing . . . and I think It’s Me: Our Great Adventure with Dementia, through a conversation exploring the hows and whys of her writing and the themes she explores. Joining her in dialogue will be her longtime friend and first reader, Sara Monroe, MD, VCU emeritus professor of infectious disease.
The book is a unique blend of memoir, advice and art. Gaustad chronicles her experiences with her late husband, Gerald Donato, as they tried to navigate the mysteries and terrors of his early-onset dementia. Beautifully illustrated with original artwork by the author, Donato and artist friends, Gaustad takes a brutally honest, sometimes harrowing and, ultimately, life-affirming look at their challenged marriage. Although she says her original intent was to create a guide for those dealing with brain illness in loved ones, the book became a testament to the beauty and humor to be found above and beyond the medical travails. Someone’s Missing is a moving love story.
The event is free and open to all and will be held in person but will also be live streamed through Zoom. The in-person location will be James Branch Cabell Library, Room 303, 901 Park Ave., Richmond, Va. 23219. Parking is available for a fee in the West Broad Street, West Main Street and West Cary Street parking decks.
Read the Book
Someone’s Missing . . . and I think It’s Me: Our Great Adventure with Dementia, which was published by VCU Libraries in 2020, can be downloaded for free on VCU Scholars Compass.
Hardcover physical copies of the book will be sold at the event by Chop Suey Books. Preorders can also be placed through Chop Suey.
Organized by the Anderson Gallery, this exhibit of works by Donato and Gaustad is an immersive, interactive installation. Donato’s artist sketchbooks will be available for direct viewing, with selections from his library, record collection and other personal belongings and effects also available for reading, viewing and listening. Original photos and diary excerpts are present as artifacts or in surreally oversized reproductions that sprawl across the art-covered walls and floor.
A public reception will be held in the gallery Friday, Sept. 10, 6–9 p.m.
Image: Someone’s Missing . . . and I think It’s Me: Our Great Adventure with Dementia cover detail, courtesy of Joan Gaustad