Clarian art project raising eyebrows

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For today, I’m turning the blog over to IBJ reporter Jennifer Whitson. 


Clarian Health Partners is calling on patients, doctors and amateur photographers to submit photographs to help it decorate three new buildings.

Clarian hired locally based Jacqueline Buckingham Anderson LLC to screen the photos and choose among nature and animal themes to populate the hospital walls. The project has raised some controversy — much of it on local arts blog — because submitters won’t be paid and local hospitals have a track record of buying local art.

In the past, Clarian has paid professional artists for murals and last year Community Hospitals Foundation commissioned more than $400,000 in original artworks to deck the halls at Community Hospital North.

Anderson said her firm never considered paying for the images because the project, dubbed Photos for Health, is about the gratitude patients and the community feel for a place where they go to heal.

In fact, she said, one professional artist contacted her to say how refreshing it was to work on a project where “it isn’t about the money.”

Anderson and Clarian declined to disclose how much they’re spending on the project or how much Anderson’s firm is being paid.

Officials with Arts Council of Indianapolis talked with Clarian in the early stages of the project, encouraging them to consider using local artists.

“They chose to go another route and we respect that,” said Shannon Linker, director of artist services. But, she said, opportunities to submit work without pay are common and the artist who found the idea refreshing is likely in the “extreme minority.”

A good move by Clarian? A step back for the local push to buy local art?

Your thoughts?

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