“Art is a wound turned into light.” -Georges Braque, French artist
Pardee Hospital’s new cancer center sits as a gleaming, glass-shrouded beacon on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Oak Street. Its bold architecture could be seen as a reflection of the state-of-the-art cancer care now provided within.
On the inside, numerous walls have been covered with original pieces created by local artists whose work reflects the beauty of Western North Carolina.
“This is the first time that Pardee Hospital has commissioned local artists to intentionally create the ambiance and complement the healing environment,” said Pardee’s Chief Administrative Officer Johnna Reed, who added that Pardee has long been committed to using photography that reflects the beauty of the region to decorate public areas.
Paintings, sculpture and mixed media pieces from 10 artists have been purchased by Pardee at a total investment of $81,000. The initial vision for using local art that advanced the work of the cancer center was provided by Pardee President/CEO James M. Kirby, II. At the encouragement of Kim Hinkelman, Pardee Hospital Foundation executive director, a special committee reached out to The Gallery at Flat Rock to explore the possibilities, said Reed.
Pieces by artists Michael Bauermeister, Kelly Chelena, Carol Beth Icard, Tim Jones, Keith Spencer, Stephen St. Claire, Kate Thayer, Matt Tommey and Cynthia Wilson were eventually purchased, in addition to photography by Suzanne Camarata Ball. Work adorns the main entry space, hallways and exam rooms.
“Our criteria were that the art selected must be from a local artist or be representative of the area, complement the building design and be within the color palette of the space,” said Reed. “All but one of the artists are local to the area.”
The exception is Bauermeister, a Missouri-based artist who creates earthy pieces reflective of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
With the assistance of Debra Dailey of DP3 Architects Interior Design Studio and project manager Craig Franks, consultation started with Ball, owner of The Gallery at Flat Rock, to acquire works. Ball worked with gallery consultant Tom Madison to assemble more than 60 original works of art representing the creative efforts of regional artists.
“Tom and I put together a proposal after seeing the design plans of the center,” said Ball. “They told us how they wanted it to feel different; they wanted the art to reflect a place of comfort and serenity. We put together lists suggesting different artists, working in a variety of media.”
Ball describes Thayer’s work in pastel watercolor as akin to “stepping right into the woods with her.” Icard paints atmospheric abstract landscapes, and Wilson uses acrylics to paint leaves “with an ephemeral feel to them,” according to Ball.
Three of the artists were commissioned to create works for specific spaces in the new center. Asheville–based Tommey employs organically shaped baskets and other natural materials in his installations, as in his “Nested in the Arms of Grace,” which appears above the fireplace in the center’s main entry.
“Matt’s colors and woods are usually dark. In this piece, he used a blue stain, echoing the color of both Pardee Hospital and the sky,” Ball said. “All his materials are a lot lighter (here) and blend well in the space.”
Spencer and St. Claire both created large, impressive five-panel works; the intricate color fields of Spencer’s “Harmony” exhibit a stained glass quality. St. Claire’s “Walk in the Woods” features a layer of metal leaf under the oil paint that gives the trees a shimmering look.
One unique connection between the project and artists is that Icard and Wilson are both cancer survivors and have used their art as a medium for healing. Also, photographer Tim Jones was himself born at Pardee Hospital.
The art of healing
Pardee’s investment in the artwork reflects the organization’s recognition of the relationship between art and healing.
“Our research indicated that patient care areas should have a balance of earth tone colors which in turn creates a calming, healing environment like that found in nature,” said Reed. “In addition to the art that reflects that balance, we used local natural photography indigenous to western North Carolina to create a healing environment and sense of familiarity.”
Ball is enthusiastic about Pardee’s commitment to having local art on the walls of the new cancer center. “It’s a huge thing,” she said. “It speaks to the breadth of artists in this area; there is so much quality.”
Ball thinks another special aspect of the project was how the art was installed with a gallery feel. “There are unique views of the art,” she said. “It’s not hung everywhere, but placed with great care and intention.”
Both Reed and Ball are excited about future collaborations. “Our goal is to continue to incorporate local art into the open spaces,” said Reed. “We welcome an ongoing and collaborative relationship to continue to engage local artists.”
Ball has been impressed with the positive experience of the project.
“The fact that they reached into a gallery in the community to work with them is tremendous,” she said. “Pardee saw the need for a local to help out with this meaningful project. It got me thinking about the greater impact art can have.”
A special exhibit, “Life in Color: The Pardee Cancer Center Artists,” will display other work by participating artists starting Feb. 11 at The Gallery at Flat Rock. An opening reception will take place from 5-7 p.m. Feb. 11 at The Gallery at Flat Rock, 2702-A Greenville Highway.
For more information, call 828-698-7000 or visit galleryflatrock.com.
Link to Press Release
Link to Kate's Statement
Kate's paintings exhibited in the Pardee Cancer Center: