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LOU'S VIEWS: Eskenazi Hospital's healthy dose of art

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Lou Harry

The idea of filling Indianapolis’ public hospital with public art isn’t a new one. Herron School dean William Forsyth helped find a place for Hoosier Group artists at the former City Hospital before any of us were born. But with the new Eskenazi Hospital, the hospital's commitment to contemporary artwork has risen to a new level. Here’s just a sampling of the work found in its halls, lobbies and waiting rooms, making a visit to the Eskenazi worthwhile even if you are in perfect health.
 

ae-eskenazi-rossphotos-2-15col.jpg “Collective Memory” (IBJ Photos/ Eric Learned)

To say that “Collective Memory” is “by” Richard Ross is misleading. Ross, who has shot for The New York Times Magazine and Newsweek, has here trained and set loose Indianapolis kids to shoot their world, then structured the results into a series of grids perfect for playing I Spy while waiting to see a doc. Nice to see each of these junior photographers get credit on the accompanying plaque.

Missing from “Balance,” crafted by Tim Ryan, Rick Prout and the community of clay artists at Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health, is a sign saying “Please touch.” The piece is meant to be felt, with each tile crafted by a different artist. The rock-filled “river” flowing through them represents the stretch of the White River that used to flow through what is now the hospital grounds.

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The painted collages of Richmond’s India Cruse-Griffin—including the lovely “Friends”—class up a waiting room that could otherwise be dominated by blaring TV. The materials imply that pieces of what we’ve seen, read and experienced make up who we are.

Not all the artwork is new to the hospital. T.C. Steele is represented with his 1914 quartet “The Four Seasons,” which had been on display at Wishard. Collectively a bucolic reminder that nature endures, it can be found on the first floor just off the lobby.
 

 

ae-eskenazi-stephanladder-5-1col.jpg “Paths Crossed”

The most prominent work in the collection is Aaron Stephan’s playful “Paths Crossed,” hanging in the lobby and offering a variety of perspectives depending on whether you are viewing it from the first or second floor. My interpretation: None of us take a straight path through life.

Gee’s Bend quilts by Loretta Bennett offer a subtle but appropriate welcome to the elevator bank to the maternity ward. The pieces give a sense not only of warmth but also of ties to generations past.

The impact of Adam Frank’s photographs is stronger when you realize that there’s a different backlit Indiana tree shimmering near every floor along the path of the green elevator bank. Together, they compose “Arbor,” celebrating both nature and place.

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This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

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