DHMC showcases local art

by Annie Smith | 11/3/14 6:02pm

Though researchers are only beginning to understand the connection between art and stress reduction, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has displayed artworks by local artists since the 1980s, when it was located in its previous Hitchcock Memorial Hospital facility.

“There was a time when volunteers would roll a cart around and patients could choose a piece of art they wanted to hang in their room,” DHMC arts program coordinator Marianne Barthel said.

Nowadays, Barthel reviews applications for the rotating art exhibit either on a CD, the artist’s website or through visits to local galleries. Artwork must be uplifting, Barthel said, and she tries to choose art from different mediums.

Showing artwork at the hospital is so popular that artists must apply two years in advance to display their works, Barthel said.

“We’re very, very fortunate here in the Upper Valley to have a tremendous wealth of talented artists,” she said. “It’s part of our history.”

The current exhibit includes collage art, oil paintings, photography, among other mediums. Local artists Naomi Hartov, Brenda Phillips and Susan Larkin as well as photographers from the Upper Valley Sierra Club and participants in the Alliance for the Visual Arts’ Gallery Art Lab, a program for adults with special needs, have work included in the show.

Larkin, a full-time painter, displays impressionistic landscapes in the exhibit.

She said she typically paints areas near where she lives, on the Lake Champlain Islands in Vermont. Though originally from Massachusetts, Larkin has lived in Vermont for 25 years.

“In the warmer months I paint outside a lot, a few times a week,” she said. “So the smaller paintings in the show are plein air paintings that were painted outside on the scene, and the larger ones are studio paintings that I do inside. I start doing that in the fall and then through the winter.”

Phillips, who studied art at Mount Holyoke College, has been making art since she graduated in 1979. While formally trained in oil painting, Phillips has recently experimented with other mediums.

“I sometimes do collages and paint over them,” she said. “I also sometimes put shells and sand dollars and other stuff on them.”

The DHMC exhibit includes her nature abstract paintings, a subject that has anchored her recent work.

A quarter of sales revenue from the pieces supports DHMC’s art programs.

DHMC displays permanent art as well, and it acquires these pieces through artist donations or purchases with the money from the local artists exhibit.

“We hope people realize it’s a win-win-win,” Barthel said, noting that art purchases from the rotating exhibits help both the artist and the hospital.

The proceeds acquired by DHMC varies every term and depends, Barthel said, on the accessibility of the exhibit and the works’ prices. An artist whose work was exhibited this summer sold eight paintings, Barthel said, a high number.

DHMC also exhibits the artwork of its employees and volunteers all year as a fixed installment, Barthel said.

“Last year, for instance, we had over 40 employees and volunteers display their work,” she said. “I think we can definitely tap into more folks. That’s one of my goals for this year: to really make sure staff is aware of it and encouraged. It’s so much of the staff’s personal expression of themselves.”