For an expert collector of masks from around the world, each an exquisite artifact designed to conceal and obscure, Bob is surprisingly candid, particularly when it comes to living with dementia.
An artist-turned-adman and the oldest of four children, he was the caretaker of his disabled sister in her first few years. Later in life she suffered and died from early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Bob has no delusions about what lies ahead. “There is steady deterioration,” he says. “I know where this goes.”
But Bob's diagnosis has not prevented him from pursuing his passions. Having exhibited his collection of masks at the Lancaster Museum of Art and published a book on the subject in 2015, he is now reconceptualizing his website, a resource and platform for collectors and enthusiasts of masks.
He has embraced technology, such as voice-activated virtual assistants such as Siri, for its potential to aid his memory and improve daily life, but learning to use new tools has proven to be challenging. Reflecting on the untapped benefits of recent technological advances, Bob had a thought: “Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had some organization, organizations, that would be interested in helping people with MCI and other forms of brain deterioration learn to use these devices in a way that really is a big help to them?"
Just as Bob embraces the new, so too does he continue to experience the joy of lifelong hobbies. He continues to take great pleasure in cycling, though he understands it is something he will have to give up eventually as his condition worsens. But art making, particularly drawing, seems to be one of those things that is unaffected by MCI.
“I think I’m at a point in my life where doing something well with ease is a great thing for my ego,” he says about drawing. “And it can be enjoyable.”