Curative Curating

Scripps Health Foundation seeks public funding for art collections to fill two new facilities

One might think that building a state-of-the-art medical facility requires nothing more than solid architecture and filling it with the latest high-tech equipment. But Scripps Health Foundation administrators know that art without the “state-of-the-” prefix plays a crucial role in healthcare.

“It has been documented that a person post surgery might need less or no narcotic medicine and pain could be managed with just an analgesic. Patients may even be discharged sooner,” says Jain Malkin, a consultant, author and speaker on interior design for healthcare facilities and a member of the foundation’s La Jolla Community Advisory Board.

Campaigns have been created to raise funds to commission artwork for the Prebys Cardio-vascular Institute, which opened in March at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, and for the Leichtag Foundation Critical Care Pavilion, which opened in July at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas.

“We’re putting together our collections independently. Both hospitals used Annette Ridenour and Aesthetics Inc. to help us identify the artists and navigate the world of art,” says Emily Hernandez, the foundation’s director of development.

“We’re working with artists that really understand the premise of what we are trying to do,” Annette says. “We want a very welcoming, supportive experience for patients, visitors and staff.”

 “One of the most important aspects of art in a healing setting is based on the theory of emotional congruence,” Jain explains. “If you have a picture of an empty bench on a lake-side, a healthy person will think of a vacation and say, ‘I can picture myself on that bench.’ A person who is sick or has a sick relative sees it as loss or dying because the bench is empty.

“In studies, nurses have reported that patients that had views of nature weren’t complaining of headaches or nausea as much and the overall outcomes have been much better,” she continues. “We use that as a filter by which we objectively evaluate the work.”

“We asked artists to prepare concept renderings,” Annette says. “Some have works in both collections because of the way they communicate the beauty of the communities that the hospitals serve.”

The La Jolla collection includes 37 works by 33 artists and a fundraising goal of $1.5 million. The Encinitas collection includes 30 works
by 18 artists and a fundraising goal of $1 million. They encom-pass paintings, photography, sculptures (including a bas relief in stone), a mobile, mosaics and a bas relief ceramic mural. Sponsorships start at $25,000 for the Encinitas collection and at $10,000 for the La Jolla collection.

“We worked out with the artists a fair price that they would charge,” Annette says. “An additional factor is the cost of putting together the collection: framing, lighting, engineering and installation.”

“There are [fundraising] events from large gatherings to small, in-home events where we introduce the artists,” Emily says. “Groups could sponsor a piece, but we are not accepting individual donations just to the program. Experience says if you have small donations coming in, you may not hit your goal. As soon as we get a commitment, we commission the artist to create the piece.”

Catalogs showing the artists’ concepts and providing background information on them can be viewed online (at for Encinitas and at for La Jolla).

Annette assembled portfolios primarily of local artists. Paintings and photography in particular show landscapes that people will recognize. Others simply stir feelings of lightness, cheer and hope. Lynn’s Heitler’s mobile features ginkgo leaf shapes in acrylic. Bruce Gray’s metal wall sculpture is an assemblage of organic shapes with bold colors in patterns of dots and squiggly lines.

You won’t find Rembrandt-esque portraits, Rothko-ish color fields or faceless forms à la Henry Moore among the collections.

“We are not collecting a world-class art collection here,” Jain says. “We are selecting art that is restorative.”



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