Last January, artists submitted proposals to Cottage Health Systems expressing how their work embodies optimism, hope, and healing — major themes of the Santa Barbara and Goleta hospitals’ project to decorate their new wings’ interiors.
From Ventura to San Luis Obispo and as far east as Bakersfield, artists vied to be part of a transformation whose goal is to promote the region’s artists while promoting healing.
The new decor will focus in particular on the area’s diverse natural landscapes and seascapes. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital will highlight the town’s Spanish colonial architecture. Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital will emphasize the great range of nationalities among residents, including UCSB students and faculty, as well as the valley’s orchards and other rural features. For the purposes of this project, Goleta has adopted the motto “Building Well. Being Well.”
The Healing Arts Committee of Cottage Health System partnered with the San Diego-based design and arts company Aesthetics Inc. to review the submissions. Annette Ridenour, president of the company, led a training clinic for the committee, according to project manager Carla Lont, to share her 30 years of experience with art in health care. Lont emphasized that art in healing environments is different from museum art because of its intention to inspire hope and tranquility. The clinic taught committee members to make their decisions based on the kinds of artistic elements patients could relate to.
Artists found out if the selection committee had chosen them to participate last August, but, according to Santa Barbara’s Chris Potter, a contributing painter, communication has been minimal. The committee only contacted artists that qualified, which Potter heard led to confusion and frustration among the remaining artists.
A local photographer that made the cut, Darren Campbell, said the lack of communication has also caused anxiety for artists who have to complete their pieces by the tentative fall 2011 deadline. His peaceful photographs of Santa Barbara landscapes need only be framed for the installation process, he said, but sculptors needs ample time to plan and create a piece fit for the project guidelines. The official call to artists outlined the specifications and budget for the artwork — financed by local philanthropy — but neither Potter nor Campbell yet know which hospital will feature their work, much less which space within the hospital. Corridors, waiting rooms, gardens, and sacred spaces are among those where, it is hoped, art of the region will reflect tranquility and promote healing.