Editorial: Bee's exhibit takes light-hearted look at life with Parkinson’s disease

There is an old saying: “When

life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In the case of Marty Bee, a

professor of graphic design

and illustration at McNeese State University, when life gave him

lemons (a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease), he instead made

drawings. Lots of them. Almost one every day since his diagnosis

in 2011.

A sampling of these works is on

display at Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center in an exhibit

called “The Dopamine Chronicles.”

The exhibit, which hangs until

Sept. 7, gets its name from the fact that nerve cells use a chemical

called dopamine to help

control muscle movement. With Parkinson’s disease, nerve cells in

the brain that make dopamine are slowly destroyed. Without

dopamine, the nerve cells cannot send messages properly, and this

leads to loss of muscle function. The damage gets worse

over time.

This all sounds pretty grim, but the exhibit is not.

Bee takes a light-hearted look at life with Parkinson’s and manages to find humor in it.

On June 14, the night the exhibit opened, guests in the packed gallery dined on gelatin “brains.”

“‘The Dopamine Chronicles’ are all about Bee’s sense of humor, which he used to sort of carry him through the time after he

was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease,” said Denise Fasske, the city’s director of cultural affairs.

Among the drawings on display is one of a Batman-themed electric toothbrush paired with the words, “With tremors in the right

hand, I can save on batteries for my Batman electric toothbrush.”

In another drawing, a nervous-looking man holding a bomb has a caption that reads “Hobbies I will probably have to give up

with Parkinson’s ... Part time bomb disposal expert.”

A drawing of a roach wearing a sombrero and shaking a pair of maracas reads: ‘‘Jobs I could get: Maraca player in a mariachi

band.”

The exhibit is light-hearted, but educational as well. There are brochures on Parkinson’s disease in the gallery, and booklets

from the National Parkinson Foundation available for viewing.

Bee is to be commended for his

positive attitude and his willingness to share his humor, his fears and

his personal insight

to help others with Parkinson’s disease. He is also donating all

proceeds from sales of digital prints of his drawings, which

cost $35 each, to the local chapter of the National Parkinson

Foundation.

The gallery, located at 1001 Ryan St., is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. To see more of Bee’s

Parkinson-themed drawings, visit his blog at http://thedopaminechronicles.wordpress.com.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.