A Good Place for Art

Whenever there is an experience where you have to be thoughtful,

that is a good place for art.

Hembree Sutton recently donated this beautiful painting in response to the care that was given to his wife Betty. He explained that he and his wife were in the hospice house for eight days, and two or three weeks before that they had home care.  “The home care, the nurses, everybody associated with Hospice who visited.  And when she finally needed to be in the facility, just the care I was given and the attention, and the clear compassion they had for Betty and for me.  It meant a lot.”

“After seeing the artwork on the walls (in the Hospice House), I don’t know that any one piece moved me. But that doesn’t mean that it didn’t have a huge impact on a lot of other people. I know what art means to me.  I wanted to give something to Hospice, just an expression of my appreciation, but also something that may help comfort someone else. A solace for someone else.”

Referring to a painting of a black lab in the Hospice House, Hembree recalled speaking with his pastor. “He had seen the painting of the puppy that I had done and he told me it would be perfect on one of these walls.  That was when I started thinking about it.  I like the puppy.  Puppies are cute, they are guileless, they seem vulnerable, just a sweet puppy face. I reflected on that melancholy look that puppy had, and just walking past the other rooms (in the hospice house) and knowing there was a tragedy or drama going on.”

According to Hembree, the ideal piece of art is one that stops you as you are walking by and you just get lost in it. “An artist friend of mine went to seeThe Scream by Edvard Munch, which is not designed to be beautiful, but to evoke an emotional response.  It is not by any sense a restful painting.  He walked by it three times before he really looked at it and saw the power in it.  With art, you are trying to capture the essence of something.  Whether you are doing it as an expression of light, or an expression color, or an expression of mood, you are just trying to capture something that people look past all the time.  To just focus attention and to really look at it and catch their attention.”

“I do portraits as well. One of my favorite things to do is portraits,” said Hembree.  “The essential thing about portraits is that the people you see anywhere, the mall, or Walmart, or anywhere just ordinary people with nothing particularly attractive about them until you start painting their portrait.  Then no one is unattractive because you see their humanity and the refection of the image of God within them.  I can’t look at them the same way again.  It expresses a desire in me to really see someone or see something and find an expression that I can share with people.  Give them a thought, something beautiful or something thoughtful.”

“Whenever there is an experience where you have to be thoughtful, then that is a good place for art. When it can pull your imagination when it is tender toward something else.  When the art can pull you into it and evoke something.  So I think that art is important anywhere, but especially when life and death are involved.  Sometimes it is just a complete distraction from where you are.”

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