Click Design That Fits' Frances Smersh shows artwork at Providence Mount St. Vincent
By Cynthia Flash
Many West Seattle residents are familiar with Frances and John Smersh, who own Click! Design That Fits in the West Seattle Junction. Some also know that the couple has been quite forthcoming about Frances’s younger onset Alzheimer’s Disease, which was diagnosed in 2015 when she was just 48 years old.
As the disease has progressed, Frances has continued to ground herself with art. Her pieces, always organic and abstract, have taken on an increasingly gestural quality. She works primarily in acrylic on wood block and continues to experiment with different mediums and techniques.
Because of Frances’s diagnoses, it’s even more poignant that she is able to mount a show of her abstract paintings this month at Providence Mount St. Vincent assisted living and nursing home, where she volunteered as an assistant in art classes for several years. Her artwork will be on display through Feb. 15, 2020, and the public is invited to stop by to look. The Mount, at 4831 35th Ave SW, Seattle, is happy to host a show of a former volunteer who means so much to The Mount community.
“Our art gallery is a source of great delight to the intergenerational community here at The Mount. Residents, volunteers, employees, visitors and outside community members regularly visit our second-floor gallery to see, appreciate and sometimes purchase the art on display,” said Molly Swain, executive director of the Providence Mount St. Vincent Foundation. “It is a special pleasure to show the work of Frances Smersh this month.”
John Smersh speaks openly about the condition faced by his wife of 29 years. In a blog post on the Click! Design website, he notes that “Frances has struggled with more challenges that the disease has presented and found that art is an area (in which) she can still thrive.”
In her show at The Mount, Frances showcases abstract works that reflect the colors of nature – browns, greens, black. She has always painted abstract works, John notes. The works are more “gestural now, where it used to be more shapes and forms.
“It certainly has changed over the years as the disease has progressed. It’s decidedly more abstract. With some of the ink on paper pieces, she did experimenting with black and white, but uses a consistent thread with color palettes. She’s drawn to mossy, chartreuse tones and warmer muted tones.”
Frances, now 52, became acquainted with Providence Mount St. Vincent at least five years ago when she volunteered as an assistant in art classes. She started helping preschoolers and seniors in classes run by the on-site Intergenerational Learning Center, then transitioned to assisting only the adult residents. “It was before she was diagnosed that she started suspecting something was wrong when some of the residents there remembered better than her where the paintbrushes were,” John said.
Now she’s come full circle, experiencing one of the ailments faced by many others living at the assisted living and skilled nursing facility, and allowing them and others to see the beautiful artwork she creates. Anyone wishing to view Frances Smersh’s paintings at Providence Mount St. Vincent should stop by the second floor, where they are on display outside the dining hall, near the Providence ElderPlace center.
Frances Smersh’s art show runs through Feb. 15, 2020. The public can view it any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day.