WALL STREET JOURNAL –Prescription for A Less Dreary Hospital

The Wall Street Journal — February 1, 2016


Pictured above: Murals by AVAF (Assume Vivid Astro Focus), a 2014 RxArt project, adorn a waiting room at La Clínica del Barrio in New York. Photo: Sercan Sezgin

A $1 Million Gerard B. Lambert Foundation Grant Will Help RxArt Bring Art Into Hospitals

Is it possible to disguise the sterile dreariness of a hospital with art?

This was the problem Diane Brown set out to solve when she founded the nonprofit RxArt 15 years ago and at the urging of her good friend Eliza Winn Lloyd Moore.

Now, with a recent grant of $1 million from the Gerard B. Lambert Foundation, the process of securing artists for bigger and more ambitious projects—as well as expanding into more pediatric hospitals—will be easier.

“Suddenly, it’s all coming together,” said Ms. Brown. “This grant makes a huge difference.”

The Gerard B. Lambert Foundation was created by Rachel Lambert Mellon, a philanthropist, art collector and heiress who is better known by her nickname, Bunny. She had a talent for and love of horticulture; among her many noteworthy projects, Mrs. Mellon redesigned the White House Rose Garden.

Mrs. Mellon died in 2014 at the age of 103. Her daughter, Ms. Moore, died in 2008 after spending eight years in a minimally conscious state after being severely injured in a traffic accident.

Ms. Brown recalls that she got the papers incorporating RxArt on a Thursday and celebrated with Ms. Moore. Two days later, Ms. Moore was struck by a van.

“She was just a great friend and a great spirit,” said Ms. Brown.

Ms. Moore had been essential in helping to develop the plan to put museum-quality art into hospitals. She enlisted the help of attorney Alexander Forger, who represented Mrs. Mellon during her life and now serves as a director of the Lambert Foundation.

It was Mr. Forger who made the inroads with Rockefeller University Hospital, which eventually accepted a very small exhibit from RxArt—and gave the organization its official start.

Mr. Forger said the grant to RxArt, which will create an endowment named in honor of Ms. Moore, is one of only two given so far by the Lambert Foundation. The other grant is in support of a new healing garden at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., said Mr. Forger.

Both donations, he said, are a “natural combination” of Mrs. Mellon’s interests in art, healing and her daughter.

Mr. Forger, who serves at the co-executor of Mrs. Mellon’s estate, said the proceeds from Mrs. Mellon’s estate will further fund the Lambert Foundation to an estimated $80 million.

In terms of grant-making, the foundation will hew to a road map Mrs. Mellon set with her giving to support conservation efforts, historic places and charities ranging from legal aid to churches.

But, said Mr. Forger, the foundation will also “follow a path for the interest of the family.”

  • – Melanie Grayce West