Art, better than aspirin

Will it make us feel better?

AFSC Exterior at duskIt’s the first question I ask when hanging something on the walls of our home.

Turns out the same question was asked at the new Intermountain Health Care clinic in American Fork. That’s where I discovered beautiful prints hanging in the lobbies, halls, and patient rooms. The quality, variety, and thoughtfulness of image selection were astonishing.

This is a clinic?

I had to know more:

  • In this time of number crunching and high health care costs, how can Intermountain afford something as nebulous as art?
  • How did they acquire such a compelling mix of local work?

I contacted Laura Salazar, an Intermountain marketing representative. Art installation, she said, is part of a progressive, holistic understanding of healing.

“Art is part of the healing environment as a whole,” said Salazar. “We are using art that reflects nature to enhance that process.”

Turns out research supports the idea of hospitals investing in feel-good efforts like nice rooms and nice things to look at. Some 600 studies have now confirmed what we knew personally, at home. It’s beneficial for hospital employees to work in a pleasing environment, as well. Read more.

flowers“Everyone is coming around to how important art is,” said Apryll Killpack, president of Alpine Art, the Salt Lake City gallery hired to select and install some 300 pieces at the four-story clinic. The process took months. The works all depict nature but are diverse in style and medium; some are behind glass, some are metal, others are printed on canvas.  There are colored x-rays of flowers and plants in the x-ray suite.

“If you have landscape after landscape after landscape, you’ll quit looking at them,” said Killback. “We worked with local artists and worked to reflect the community. People have rural roots…A lot of people in American Fork have horses.”

I gravitated to this image, taken by Utah photographer Charlie Lansche and printed on canvas for a captivating, oil-painting look. It was taken in Chalk Creek Canyon in Summit County.

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“I was roaming country roads during early winter looking for eagles to photograph,” recalled Lansche. “I came upon the Clegg family who were unloading a couple of horses in a high country corral. I asked if I could photograph them and they said they were heading up to their high pasture to bring down their rodeo stock for the winter and invited me to go along.  I grabbed my camera and jumped in a truck and up the mountain we went.  It was a scene from the old west as three generations of Cleggs rounded up these beautiful paints and pushed them down a couple of miles to a loading corral.”

Wow. Now I feel even better.