OWATONNA — As the new Owatonna Hospital celebrates 10 years, so does the Healing Arts Program.
A joint venture by the hospital and the Owatonna Arts Center keeps corridors on the building’s first two floors filled with work from local artists throughout the year and this winter’s show is appropriately full of color.
While most of the work has already been hung, this season’s exhibition will have its official opening reception Tuesday with refreshments for the public and visits from the people behind the paint. In curating this five-artist show, OAC Creative Director Silvan Durben said what excited him most is the amount of color present in the majority of the work.
“It’s very bright, very vibrant. It hopefully will cheer us up through the winter,” he explained.
As he was hanging the show, Durben noted that hospital staff and indoor walkers — who drive out to get their exercise during the winter — both commented on how the program adds to their time at the facility.
When selecting work for the show, Durben said he looks for things that are able to bring joy to hospital residents, visitors and staff.
“We’re always looking for something that allows you to contemplate positive thoughts,” he noted, “[something] that really enhances an environment that is nurturing.”
St. Paul-based painter Patty Paulus has brought down a number of very colorful, multimedia works for the show. Loosely based on landscapes and places that she has been, she said she hoped her audience would be able to recall a location near to their heart when viewing her paintings.
“My main style is to invoke a particular place for somebody. I might [draw] an Icelandic crater from a trip I took to Iceland, but somebody else might see something else in it,” said Paulus, who works primarily in acrylic paint and oil pastel. “They do have a really calming feel to them and people can see in them what they want to see in them.”
The other artists in the show are painters Brandon Guse, Sue Mooney and Steve Wilson, as well as local basket-maker Deb Mather.
The former three all work in varying and often vibrant tones, but range from abstract color field paintings to more realistic depictions.
“A lot of my work is really large and bright,” explained Guse — an elementary art teacher in Waseca — who cited Pop Art as one of his inspirations. “I thought [the hospital] would be a good space for a [positive] mood, and something exciting to look at.”
Set off again the building’s neutral wall paper and hung in both main thoroughfares and less-visited crannies, each piece serves to activate the space in a new way and give both regulars and one-time visitors something new to discover.
Tucked away by the first-floor emergency room, Mather’s baskets are arranged in three different windows. In addition to their unusual, if not unique, colors and shapes, the artist noted that the medium itself lends itself well to the Healing Arts Program.
The Owatonna-based weaver frequently helps out with community education classes and events, meaning working in a group has become a part of her process and a testament to the many ways in which art can heal.
“I’m sure it’s like a lot of other things — you’re not only making the basket or making the project, but there is so much [therapeutic benefit] to telling stories, talking about issues that are going on,” she said. “Basket weaving is the avenue to get the fellowship, and maybe help someone else with something they’re going through.”
Mather added that the time-intensive nature of weaving adds to its therapeutic nature, giving fellow artists plenty of opportunity to talk together.
As a whole, the Healings Art Program has sought to bring the benefits of art into the hospital for nearly a decade. Initiated with the completion of the new hospital building, the OAC’s website says the project is meant to contribute to “an overall healing environment that makes a difference in a patient’s recovery.”
The public is also invited in to enjoy each show, which rotate on a continual basis, and stay up for four months at a time. Artists from the current exhibition will be present at its official opening reception Tuesday, Nov. 12 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the hospital, located at 2250 26th St. NW.
Residents are invited to stop down, socialize and maybe discover a little bit more about the Owatonna Hospital, as well as the community’s artists.