The lobby of Los Angeles County/University of Southern California's Violence Intervention Program in Boyle Heights was transformed on Friday evening.
What was formerly a drab and clinical waiting room buzzed like an art gallery on opening night, as community members appraised art that adorned the back wall.
The exhibit--curated by Kathy Gallegos of Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park--featured ten images drenched in local color.
Artists Raoul De La Sota, Sonia Romero, Linsley Lambert and others contributed pieces to the Local Color exhibit that coalesced to create a warm and welcoming environment inside the clinic.
Many of the young people who are going through the Violence Intervetion Program have been the victims of abuse, oftentimes by those who are closest to them.
For Gallegos--who was enlisted to curate the show by VIP Director Dr. Astrid Heger--the challenge of assembling Local Color was in finding pieces that would evoke broad, positive emotions while avoiding images and themes that would remind them of their painful past.
Dr. Andy Lee, an endocrinologist who runs a diabetes clinic on the fifth floor of the building, said the exhibit would play a valuable role in building stronger bonds with patients.
"It changes the whole mood and culture of the medical center," Lee said. "Whereas this place was thought of as being sterile and just treating everyone the same--it now becomes very personalized to engage with people to deal with real issues. I think its an absolutely great thing."
Lee said the images--including Sonia Romero's "Urban Tea Party," which depicts a pair of children eating junk food beneath the shade of a tree--creates an unspoken understanding between patients and caregivers.
"The one with the two kids eating. It has a social commentary. For the patients, they mainly feel like it's not an institution. They feel like, there's something here that's reaching out to me," Lee said.
Money for the art exhibit was provided through a Los Angeles County provision that requires 1-percent of renovation projects' funding go toward the arts, explained Rebecca Ansert of the Los Angeles Count Arts Commission.
Ansert said she chose Gallegos to curate the exhibit for "a number of reasons."
"It was because of their outreach to community, the artists they work with currently and their proximity," Ansert said. "It was really a natural fit."
Heger said the exhibit, which will rotate in the coming months, should set an example for the directors of others clinics at the USC-LAC Campus.
"It should light a spark and encourage them to get some art up on their walls," she said.
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