Story last updated at 7/4/2012 - 1:42 pm
Splashes of youthful cheer and vision bedecks the walls of Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau - giving patients and staff something to perhaps find a better frame of mind with.
The Bartlett Hospital Guild has hosted an art show annually since the 1970s, when a woman in the guild started the competition. Each year, the show was accompanied with a tea, where students would display their art and get a chance to view others' with teachers, family, guild members and hospital staff. This year was the first of many in which the tea did not occur, however the art work still lines the walls of several departments.
Dolores Bach, a guild member who joined at a tea in the 1950s, said for many years 40 entrants' pieces were selected to adorn the walls of the hospital. Now, 52 pieces are selected. The art comes from the elementary schools in Juneau, where art teachers are given about three months to plan and plot how they will have kindergarten through fifth-grade students create pieces appropriate for a hospital.
Carole Winton, a 16-year guild member, said they don't stipulate a theme, only the size because they already have the frames and mattes. Groups of artists in town judge the pictures and decide which lucky young artists will be featured for a year.
"The staff and patients love the art," Winton said. "We have had people want to buy some of the art off the wall. There was one (patient) that was in intensive care, I think it was a tourist, who was so positive it was a big part of their recovery and wanted to purchase the piece. The staff, administration and patients all seem to absolutely love it. We've really been encouraged to continue doing it. The art is so refreshing, what the kids do. It's usually so cheery."
Bach said there has been a poor response to the tea for the past few years, in which families of the children are sent hand-written invitations.
"We would have them all around the cafeteria for people to see," she said. "The tea was a really big affair for many years. We had a good response."
Bach figures that there is just too much going on these days. Perhaps, it's a sign of more change.
The guild dates back to the 1920s, Bach said, when it was St. Ann's Hospital Guild - later the St. Ann's Guild of Bartlett Memorial Hospital and now, simply referred to as the Bartlett Hospital Guild.
In the earlier days, guild members were mending sheets, sewing and mending hospital gowns and rolling bandages. In the 70s, guild members would package items to be sterilized.
"There are some (members) in their 70s and 80s that remember rolling bandages from way back," Winton said. "People just have different kinds of lives than they did back then. "
Now, those items are all ordered, arriving sterilized, or replaced when signs of wear occur.
When those changes came about, the direction of the guild's efforts changed. They operated a gift shop for a few years for patients and a vending machine. The focus was more on earning money to help out in the hospital. The guild would ask the hospital departments for their "wishlist" of capital items and sometimes the wish would get granted by the guild.
That came to an end as the guild ran out of enough volunteers to staff the shop, and is now operated by the Bartlett Regional Hospital Foundation.
One of the first fund-raising efforts that was a highlight of the guild, and a rather regal affair, was a luncheon at the Baranof. That began to fade when women's clothing stores closed up.
Now, the guild also staffs an information kiosk at the main entrance of the hospital three or four days a week.
What the future of the guild holds is uncertain, as members are aging and, these ladies feel, people just don't join groups any more.
But for now, the annual art show lives on, brightening the hallways of the hospital with images created from eyes that catch a new perspective.
Sarah Day is the editor of the Capital City Weekly. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos of artist images by Sarah Day.