Two Special Deliveries from Roswell Park's Art Program

Pictured: Roswell Park volunteer Julie Legters helps patient Dennis Sixt select a piece of artwork for his hospital room.

For Inpatients, Artwork with Personal Appeal

Every Tuesday morning, Julie Legters fills a cart with framed works from the Roswell Park art collection and makes her rounds among the fifth- and sixth-floor inpatient rooms. She knocks on a patient’s door and introduces herself: “I’m Julie, a volunteer with the hospital, and today you have the opportunity to choose some art for your room. You can pick from what I have on the cart outside.”

There’s a brief pause as the man absorbs this information, and then he brightens. “Sure!”

Legters produces an iPad loaded with 20 images of the photos and paintings in the cart — a brightly colored peacock with its tail fanned out, a majestic iguana, delicate flowers, a fawn, a landscape with a river winding among the green hills of Panama. As she swipes through the selections, the man spots the one he wants. It’s a photo of a pair of seagulls, their chest feathers bright white against a dark sky slashed with a streak of orange sunlight. “This one would be OK,” says the man. “Thank you.”

In a matter of minutes, Legters removes a photo of pink tulips that has hung in the room until now, cleans the frame with disinfectant wipes, and returns it to the cart before installing the seagull photo. Switching out the artwork is quick and easy for rooms equipped with art rails, which don’t damage the walls.

The Patient Art Cart — made possible with $20,000 of a $100,000 gift from Ingram Micro for patient-support programs and event sponsorships — helps inpatients personalize their hospital rooms. And it delivers an added bonus: Studies show that, among other benefits, art reduces stress by providing a happy distraction from medical worries.

The distraction is more than visual. “Artwork can spark conversation and start a different dynamic,” Legters says. Sure enough, as she continues her rounds, one woman remarks on the photo of the fawn, which reminds her of the deer that browse in her garden at home, while the photo of Panama recalls her travels to that country. In the end she chooses a tableau of fall leaves, tan and yellow and green with a tinge of red at the edges.

Legters smiles. “That one’s my favorite.”

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For Patients and Visitors, a Showcase of Works by Local Artists

Roswell Park has also expanded its art program with the installation of the Community Artists Gallery, located at the east end of the hallway between the hospital and the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center. Chris Wesley, Volunteer Services Administrator, points out that it’s a high-traffic area, giving many patients and visitors a glimpse of the talents of local artists.

The gallery will present new artwork on an ongoing basis. “We’ll have three shows a year,” says L.J. Dusel, Community Volunteer Specialist. “Every four months a new group will be brought in to showcase their artwork in the gallery. One member of the Roswell Park Alliance Art Committee will take the lead for each upcoming show.”

“We’re very fortunate that members of the committee come from different backgrounds and have different connections with the community,” adds Wesley. “We serve a diverse population, and this allows us to explore the artwork of different groups of people.”

The current show, Artists Are All Around Us: Fruit Belt Artists, features the work of artists from Buffalo’s historic Fruit Belt neighborhood adjacent to the Roswell Park campus. The eight paintings, by six different artists, include a portrait of the late entertainer Prince and a view of Scottie’s, a favorite local steak house. Curated by Art Committee member Molly Bethel, who founded the MollyOlga art studio (now Locust Street Art), the exhibition will run through January 2018.

The next exhibition will feature photography and poetry by migrant and refugee students from Buffalo’s International Preparatory School. Where We’re At — the title chosen by the students themselves — is being curated by Art Committee member Craig Centrie, PhD, Professor of Education at Medaille College.

Check the patient calendar and Roswell Park Facebook events page for further details (to come). The Community Artists Gallery was created with a gift from Michael and Roberta Joseph, and the rotating exhibitions are made possible with support from the Cameron Baird Foundation.