Serious car accident 26 years ago leads to design company’s birth
ArtLine offers therapeutic memory care products for Alzheimer’s patients

By Karen Stokes - Special to The Freeman

Feb. 8, 2018

From left to right, William Welch, vice president of ArtLine Ltd.; Kathy and Jim Thiel, CEO and owners.
Submitted photo

WAUKESHA — Twenty-six years ago after a serious car accident, Kathy Thiel started ArtLine out of necessity.

Kathy was in art sales and after the accident she was in a wheelchair. She wasn’t able to walk for six months and her past employer let her go because she was a saleswoman who couldn’t travel and see clients.

At that point Kathy decided to pick up the phone and call past clients, people she previously worked with, and started her own company.

“She started her company from her hospital bed,” said William Welch, vice president of ArtLine. “She got orders from clients before we really had a business.”

Founded in 1992 by Kathy and her husband Jim Thiel, ArtLine, Ltd. has established itself as a premier art and framing company but is also the leader in developing an entire line of interactive therapeutic art for memory care. Additionally, they design and manufacture high quality case goods including lights, cabinets, mirrors and bulletin boards — with American materials from American small businesses.

“We actually do about 10 percent of our business in Wisconsin and 90 percent of our business is national or in Canada,” Welch said.

Life Stations are sold to nursing homes and memory care facilities to provide therapy that utilizes the habits memory patients used to have and helps them remember what they used to do, which increases cognitive memory.
Submitted photo

Waukesha-based ArtLine is family-owned and as a family has been at the forefront of the process, production and sales.

“We looked at requests from our clients for other types of products they were looking for so we developed a whole line of therapeutic interactive memory care art then we went and developed memory skill life stations,” said Welch.

Another reason why the memory products were created was that Welch’s grandparents had Alzheimer’s disease and the family experienced watching them deteriorate over time, so they realized there was a need for a product.

Memory care products include audio art, tactile art and life stations and more.

Life Stations were created specifically for residents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Each station allows patients to utilize habits that they used to have.

“We developed a kitchenette, a workbench called The Handyman, and a gardening station,” said Welch. “They can still continue to do what they used to do when they were living on their own and helped them to remember the things that they used to do which increases their cognitive memory. “One thing that Kathy always stresses about this business is that everybody that works here, every objective that we have and every product is made to help people,” Welch said. “It’s a very passionate company.”

More information on ArtLine, Ltd can be found at