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Published January 29, 2012, 10:34 PM

Area artists commissioned for Sioux Falls hospital collection

FARGO - Ivy Oland is one happy customer. She was visibly moved earlier this month when she saw the two near-finished mosaics commissioned by Fargo artist Janet Flom.

By: John Lamb, INFORUM

FARGO - Ivy Oland is one happy customer.

She was visibly moved earlier this month when she saw the two near-finished mosaics commissioned by Fargo artist Janet Flom.

Oland isn’t getting the works for her house or office, however. She’s arranged for Flom to create the pieces for Sanford Heart Hospital, which opens in Sioux Falls, S.D., in March.

An arts and healing environment consultant based in Sioux Falls, Oland worked with Sanford selecting artists to create works fitting with the hospital’s needs.

“Wow,” Oland exclaimed earlier this month when she drove up to Flom’s studio to see the pieces. “I’ve seen progress pictures along the way, but it’s so nice to see them.”

Oland knew art would be an important part of the new building and not just decoration.

“Everyone wants pretty buildings, but it’s much more than that,” she says.

She cites studies done that show how the aesthetics of a space can affect a patient’s recovery. One hospital had a bank of rooms facing a brick wall while the other side looked out at natural scenery. Those on the more scenic side were discharged on average of a day earlier with less medication.

Similarly, it was important to find individual artists to create site-specific works rather than buy pre-existing pieces.

“We don’t want to take a blanket approach to different specific needs of patient population,” Oland says. “It’s really hard to go find artwork that fits these specific needs. By commissioning the artists, we are able to meet very specific needs of each patient and family for a positive health outcome. (The art) can provide an actual return on investments.”

“I like creating commissioned work, the challenge of a theme and the collaboration of arriving at what I can do and what they want,” says Flom, who has been working in commissions for 25 years.

She likes the change of having her pieces in a hospital, as opposed to places where people choose to visit.

“I just feel people will engage in them differently,” Flom says. “Mosaics do that. They’re tactile. They pull people in.”

The pair of pieces took about six months to create and will weigh 150 pounds. Flom also has three paintings hanging in the new hospital, but not as prominently.

Each of the mosaics shows a group of diverse people; a librarian, a farmer, a doctor, a cowboy musician, a teen, a gardener, a hunter and his dog.

The images are made of small pieces of cut or broken tile. The faces are left open, with a cut mirror overlaid with antique stained glass with a stained-glass bronze finish.

The effect allows the viewer to see him or herself in the scene and reflect the theme “Reflecting Your Journey.”

“Everyone is potentially a patient in the health care facility,” Flom says, adding that she believes the art will create a sense of empathy.

Oland says different floors have different themes. One of Flom’s pieces will greet visitors just outside an elevator. That floor’s theme is “reflecting the patient’s journey.”

Other themes are “celebrating community,” “embracing family” and “honoring history and heritage.”

About 200 artists submitted proposals for the project. Thirty were selected, including a number from the area, like Karen Bakke, Brad Bachmeier, Val Halverson Leila Rastegar, Scott Gunvaldson and Hans Gilsdorf.

Bakke has three paintings – one watercolor and two oils – in the Heart Hospital, but worked with Oland earlier on getting others in Sanford’s Children’s Hospital.

“It’s huge,” Bakke said of having a major institution like Sanford supporting local artists. “This is so uplifting and nice to know they’re not looking halfway across the country because we really do have good artists in Fargo.”

Oland agrees. “There’s an incredible wealth of artists in the area. I’m really excited about expanding relationships with the arts community (in Fargo-Moorhead).”

She isn’t the only happy one in the transaction. Flom plans on driving to Sioux Falls for the artists’ opening in February.

“It’s quite the campus,” Flom says. She first visited two weeks ago when she dropped off the finished works. “They really have put a lot of thought into the art.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533