Huntsman: Art that promotes healing
July 28, 2009
Connie Katz knows why watercolors of tulips sprout from the walls of bone density clinic at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
It’s the same reason why photos of Utah’s red rock hang in the hallways where doctors perform marrow transplants, why swimmers float above CAT scan machines in radiology.
Katz hung them there.
For the Park City gallery owner, Huntsman isn’t just one of the premier cancer hospitals in the country. It is also an almost endless canvas of walls, patient rooms and offices that must be enlivened with artwork, freed, in a sense, from the clinical feeling that pervades most hospitals.
"The art is intended to be uplifting," said Kathy Wilets, a representative of Huntsman, during a recent tour with Katz through Huntsman. "It doesn’t feel like a hospital in here."
"We even do the bathrooms," Katz added. She pauses in her walkabout to field requests from nurses "When our clinic moves, that pink quilt comes with us!" as she straightens frames and tries to explain her vision.
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"They know me as the art girl," Katz laughed.
Populating Huntsman with paintings, sculptures and quilts is a monumental task when you consider that the hospital encompasses nearly 295,000 square feet and donations from artists, doctors and benefactors comprise the entire collection.
The job is further complicated by the fact that Huntsman is, of course, a working facility with patients and clinicians whirling around. "We’re really careful," Katz professed. "If we’re hanging work, and I see a patient, I dive to the side to get out of the way."
Katz’s expertise is put to good use here. Some of the waiting rooms and hallways harbor distinct themes. Others are combinations of work from patients who request specific areas of the hospital to honor doctors or clinics.
Since the center opened in 1999, the hospital has garnered an impressive collection of about 1,000 pieces. They will need a bounty of new art to decorate another 50 patient rooms when Huntsman’s current expansion project is complete in 2011. And although some Park City artists and galleries have contributed to the collection, Katz urged more patrons from her hometown to give.
Katz has volunteered on the Huntsman’s Art Advisory Board for about six years. In addition to soliciting donations, Katz has personally catalogued and hung hundreds of pieces, affixing each with custom tags. She also ensures that the pieces receive frames.
"The employees and patients are No. 1 for me," Katz said.
For information on how to donate artwork to Huntsman, visit http://www.huntsmancancer.org .