People can experience a certain anxiety waiting in a doctor’s office, something not easily offset by the bare walls and the outdated magazines. But members of a Capital District art group are trying to revolutionize the way people look at doctors’ offices and immerse them in the local art scene.
Colonie residents Susan Rivers and Jackie Watsky are founders of Art de Cure, a not-for-profit group that is attempting to bridge the gap between medicine and art. It also provides an opportunity for those who might not usually find themselves in an art gallery to experience one without even realizing it.
It’s original by local artists, said Watsky. `Susan and I have been friends for a number of years, and we had been brainstorming ways to promote regional art in not necessarily a traditional gallery setting so you could reach more people. In other words, to bring art to the community rather than have the community come to the art.`
The first gallery to open up in a doctor’s office was at the Endocrine Group, LLP on Washington Avenue last April. More than half of the art on display was sold, according to Rivers. When a piece is sold, a portion of the funds go to the artist and another goes to a charity of the office’s choice.
The Endocrine Group, LLP has chosen to donate its part of the proceeds to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). And since the opening, Art de Cure has raised more than $12,000 for ADA.
But the group does hope to expand and start galleries in other offices.
`This is our flagship gallery,` Watsky said. `This is the prototype of how we’d like other ones to look.`
Watsky’s husband, Dr. Jay Watsky of the Endocrine Group, LLP, said he hopes to see it expand.
`There’s no other place else you see anything like this,` he said.
It is also unique in the type of art is being presented to patients, said Rivers. While each different type of art might be seen in a separate gallery, this is bringing the works together and introducing them to a wide audience.
`It runs the gamut,` Rivers said. `You might have to go to different kinds of galleries to see the different type of collections. Some are more contemporary, some are more traditional, some are photography. But we’ve kind of brought a lot of things to the masses who would never be caught in a gallery.`
The gallery is kept fresh, with the art being rotated among the 90 different local artists participating.
There have even been some patients who have contributed their own work to the gallery.
`We’ve had several patients who have seen the work, who then approached us to participate,` said Rivers.
The art has already touched people young and old.
Watsky described the story of a little girl who was crying after she was diagnosed with diabetes but discovered the jewelry for sale through Art de Cure and had a change of mood.
`She was brought over to the case jewelry so she could get a custom-made medical bracelet, and it kind of eased her angst about what went on,` she said.
There was also a couple that had come in on their anniversary and the wife saw a piece she liked. Once she went into the room for her appointment, the husband bought it for her as a gift.
But the art is not available just for the patients as the office is open to the public, even after hours, with volunteers from the practice selling the art and working the jewelry stand.
`The practice is giving really generously of its staff time, its space, and when we have our opening receptions for each new show, the reception is held here after hours,` she said. `That’s a big buy-in for the practice.`
The practice does not profit from this at all, though, but Jay adds that with the costs people would have to hand over to run a gallery, purchasing the space, keeping the room lit and paying utilities, it’s hard to sustain itself.
By using the office space, Jay said those costs are already taken care of, and it is easier to keep the art hanging on the walls.
`The arts in general need to collaborate in some other way such as this in order to even have a venue,` he said. `Without doing so, it’s just not affordable.`
Still, this art is for everyone, Watsky said, adding that this is not meant to be an elitist sort of gallery. This is bringing it to the public.
`Especially in these financial times, when any funding and support for the arts has been cut, the arts in every form need to be supported,` she said. `Art is really for everyone, it’s not an elitist entity. And it should not be seen that way.`
While the gallery is open to the public, those who want to preview some of the art can visit www.artdecure.org and go through some the exhibits that have been held. Rivers also stressed that the group is always looking for more artists and to contact them at either [email protected] or [email protected]
Art de Cure will also be holding its Second Annual Benefit for the American Diabetes Association on Friday, April 15, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Endocrine Group. Cover for the event is $35.“