THE WALL STREET JOURNAL – Party Prescription: Murals and Music

Wall Street Journal — September 17, 2013

The artist Nate Lowman, art patron Agnes Gund, Kiehl’s CEO Chris Salgardo, jewelry heiress Veronica Bulgari and dermatologist Lisa Airan were just some of the notables who ventured to the Lever House building on Park Avenue and 53rd Street Monday for the annual RxArt Party. A silent and live auction featured more than 50 works by artists such as Donald Baechler, Rob Pruitt, Wade Guyton and Mary Weatherford.

RxArt is a nonprofit that enlists visual artists to transform pediatric hospitals with colorful and comforting site-specific installations. Next year, for instance, Dan Colen will wallpaper an entire outpatient center at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn with his confetti images.

“It’ll be huge,” said Diane Brown, the organization’s president and founder.

Over the last few days, the visual artist Kenny Scharf, who was honored at Monday’s event, painted a permanent installation at the same hospital in the two-story stairwell connecting the pediatric and adolescent inpatient psychiatric units.

“It was hard,” said Mr. Scharf, as he watched a video that chronicled the process. “It’s one thing doing a mural inside or outside. It’s another thing to do it in a claustrophobic stairwell.”

But, he added, “it’s gratifying. These institutions are really depressing, and when the kids came to look at the mural close up, they were so excited. It made me feel good.”

Sometimes Mr. Scharf’s work, he explained, can be scary, with strange monsters. But the stairwell at the museum is “kid-friendly. All happy characters: butterflies, ants and rainbows.”

  • Marshall Heyman