Jan Marion can imagine a patient sitting in bed, groggy from sickness or medication, but not sleeping.
Because of pain or anxiousness, the patient stares at the wall across from the bed and sees a picture of sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico.
The patient stares at the horizon in the photo and finds it meditative. He relaxes.
“That’s why the photo is there,” said Marion, the president of H. Marion Art Consulting Services.
“All of the decisions that we make are based on evidence. And studies have shown that realistic imagery
and horizon lines can help people relax,” Marion said.
That’s why each of the 310 patient rooms in the Jennie Sealy Hospital has a similar picture.
As Part of opening Jennie Sealy Hospital, the University of Texas Medical Branch budgeted $750,000 to buy art for the building’s interior. The Money bought more than 1,000 pieces of art. Marion’s company facilitated the purchases.
The Art includes paintings, photographs and larger installation pieces, like a trio of 65-inch-wide sand
dollar sculptures hanging in the atrium of the building and an original stained glass window that was
installed in the hospital’s first-floor meditation room.
For the past week, Marion’s team has been going floor-to-floor hanging the art. Stacks of framed art
were piled in the hospital’s first-floor hallway, waiting to be unwrapped and hung.
All of the art has a Galveston feel. There are beach scenes, grassy dunes, seagulls and shells. In one
hallway, an educational display mixes photos from the medical branch’s archives with photos of modern
The art in the building comes from dozens of artists, including about 50 from the Houston-Galveston
area. As part of the art program, Marion approached Galveston art galleries and purchased high-quality
duplicates of their original pieces.
“It really makes us feel like a part of the community,” said Rene Wiley, one of the Galveston artists
whose work is featured. Wiley has lived on the island for 13 years and has a studio on Postoffice Street.
“I know what it’s like to have somebody in the hospital, and it’s really refreshing to walk around the halls
and to look at art and get your mind off why you’re really there,” Wiley said.
There is some practical reasoning behind the art choices, said Deborah McGrew, the medical branch’s
chief operating officer. McGrew was among the medical branch officials who consulted on the art
The hospital building was oriented to provide views of water, either of the Gulf of Mexico or the
Galveston Ship Channel, depending on the side of the building. As a means of way-finding, the art in the
building reflects what’s out the window. On the Gulf side of the building are beach scenes. On the
channel sides are images of ships and wharves.
“That’s used as a kind of secondary way-finding technique to help orient patients and their families to
where they’re at and to help anchor how to get back to a place,” McGrew said.
Except for some repeats in patient rooms, no two pieces of art in the building are the same, McGrew
Jennie Sealy Hospital will open in April. The medical branch will dedicate the building Friday.