Local Artwork In Focus at UnityPoint Health - Prairie Parkway

By Melody Parker, originally published at wcfcourier.com.

At some companies, you get the impression that someone loaded up a shopping cart at the Big Art Warehouse and trucked in nondescript landscapes or abstracts in shades of mauve and blue to hang on the walls.

The cookie-cutter approach to corporate art may be efficient, but it is more closely akin to hanging wallpaper — with a signature — than collecting art.

Experts say there is an art to acquiring a corporate collection that completes a space in a visually interesting way, or has a connection not only to the physical structure of the building and its purpose, but also has meaning to people who work at and use the facility. 

When it was time to choose artwork for the new UnityPoint Health-Prairie Parkway Clinic, the focus was on Iowa artists. The works of 13 artists are displayed throughout the new clinic, and with the exception of a piece hanging in the obstetrics waiting area by Brian Frink of Mankato, Minn., all of the artwork was created by Iowans.

Health care is really local, and it’s a community asset. We really wanted the art to reflect the community we serve,” says UnityPoint-Allen CEO Pam Delagaredelle.

We all know art has the ability to heal, inspire and lift spirits, so we wanted to put together an environment that would affect people’s well-being and their quality of life,” she explains. 

Dee Vandeventer, who recently retired as chief development officer at Allen Foundation, was asked to oversee the art project for the new facility. She formed a committee with Jan Anderson and artist Tom Stancliffe, both from the Cedar Falls Art Committee, to spearhead acquisition.

The building has so much natural light, three floors and many different areas, so it was a challenge. We set up three tiers based on the number of floors in the building and considered scale, location and the impression a piece would make,” Vandeventer explains.

Also serving on the committee were Darrell Taylor, University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art director; Chawne Paige, Waterloo Center for the Arts curator; Martin Arthur, Hearst Center for the Arts executive director; and Luke Kroeger and Lori Murphy-Stokes, both of UnityPoint. 

The 90,000-square-foot, three-story facility at 5100 Prairie Parkway opened in January. Therapy imaging, urgent care, a laboratory and pharmacy are located on the first floor. Obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics and multi-specialities are on the second floor, and family medicine is housed on the third floor.

The central three-story stairway is a focal point, and the perfect location for a large contemporary installation like Susan Chrysler White’s piece that extends upward to the third floor.

The Bird’s Fire-Fangled Feathers,” the piece by White, a painting professor at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, incorporates various shapes and transparent colors of Plexiglass in a contemporary shape that blossoms into a 3-dimension effect at its zenith.

On the first floor, patients will find colorful artwork by Dallas Guffey in Urgent Care. “Rhythm,” a wood sculpture by John Schwarzkoff, ties into the facility prairie theme and is displayed outside the imaging department, while Tom Stancliffe’s etched and burnished steel sculpture, “Portico,” hangs near the café.

In an intimate first-floor lounge with a fireplace, Thomas C. Jackson’s “Prairie Grass” sets a tranquil mood, while his “Hanging Out at the Fair” provides a colorful bit of fun in the second-floor pediatrics waiting area.

Chawne Paige’s abstract and layered black, white and gray series, Dennis Peterka’s serene “Near the High Plains” and Kara Schlabaugh’s “Harvest Rows” paintings are displayed on the second floor. Deborah Ziotsky’s paintings hang in the OB waiting room, as does Brian Frink’s “Globe #6.”

On the third floor, a printed wood piece by Midwest Pressed, “Puppies vs. Kittens,” charms patients waiting on the south side of family medicine, and a series of four abstract Crit Streed drawings is displayed in the north wing. Barbara Fedeler’s pencil and charcoal landscape studies, “Near Volga” and “Near Littleport” are displayed in the third-floor hallway.