A Healthy Dose of Artwork

The Summit Medical Group has cultivated a number of pieces of artwork at its Berkeley Heights campus, which helps comfort patients and family members.

"Spanning" by artist Jean Burdick is a panel-mounted silkscreen print that can be seen in SMG's current show.
"Spanning" by artist Jean Burdick is a panel-mounted silkscreen print that can be seen in SMG's current show.
Photo by Fran Eber Photography

Most people come to the offices of Summit Medical Group to see about some health care concern. Thanks to the efforts of Elizabeth Wiech, they also get to see a substantial amount of art, artfully displayed.

A space planner with SMG since 2002, Wiech oversees the layout, furnishings and artwork for the 60-plus facilities maintained by the company, the largest privately owned, multispecialty medical group in New Jersey. In 2007, when SMG was consolidating 16 locations into a 265,000-square-foot main campus in Berkeley Heights, Wiech was tasked with finding something to put on the walls. A longtime arts advocate and member of the steering committee for Alliance for Art and Health New Jersey/ArtPrideNJ, Wiech did not want to rely on mass-produced prints. “A lot of people go to galleries to see art,” she says. “I wanted to put art where people go.”

Wiech mounts two shows each year in the Lawrence Pavilion, conference center and café of SMG’s Berkeley Heights campus. “Often when people are here, they are stressed,” says Wiech. “They are anxious about a health issue or a family member’s condition. I wanted a space that people could enjoy between appointments, a hospitality feel, not a clinical look. The staff looks forward to it, too.”

SMG’s exhibitions almost exclusively feature New Jersey artists. “We want to be part of the community, not just a place people go when they are sick,” says Wiech. “Most of the artists come to me through word of mouth. Many of them live nearby and get their health care from SMG, so it’s been a rewarding experience for them and me.”

On November 14, in partnership with AAHNJ/ArtPride’s Arts and Health Month initiative, Wiech will give a tour of the current exhibit at the Berkeley Heights campus. Artists will be on hand to discuss their work, and refreshments will be served. Most artwork is for sale, and 10 percent of the purchase price will benefit the Summit Medical Group Foundation for medical education. For reservations, e-mail [email protected].

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