By Judy O’Gorman Alvarez
NEPTUNE – An ongoing art project will make the view for pediatric patients at Hackensack Meridian Health K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital a little more enjoyable.
Rumson resident and artist Lucy Kalian is spearheading a creative rooftop painting project to brighten the views and spirits of the children, families and staff of the Neptune hospital.
Kalian is a familiar face around the children’s hospital where she visits once or twice a month with her therapy dog, Oliver, bringing smiles and squeals to children. In addition, her family, the Hovnanians, has been a longtime philanthropic supporter of the hospital and network as a whole.
“Going in and out of the various patient rooms sparked the idea to take the existing and necessary mechanical equipment outside of the children’s windows and turn it into something exciting and unique, something that might brighten their day.
The outside view overlooks the building’s mechanicals – vents and ductwork – creating a necessary but unattractive site.
“It was like the elephant in the room,” said Kalian, who sat on an advisory board at the children’s hospital, and was invited to a “brainstorming session” about improving the view. “It’s depressing to look out of the ICU,” she said. “Not only is it disconcerting to the patients and guests, but also for doctors and caregivers.”
Kalian said they went through a variety of suggestions, including whether or not to paint the windows. “But no matter what the view or the weather, you have to be able to look outside,” she said.
Kalian decided to turn to the hospital’s surroundings for inspiration. “We’re right down the street from the famous Asbury Park,” she pointed out. “We’re right here at the Jersey Shore.”
She set about researching and sketching to create a Jersey Shore-themed design, complete with seaside sites, maps of the towns along the coastline and other notable landmarks.
She also researched and included nautical flags with inspirational phrases, such as “Calm Sea Breezes” and “Sunny Days.” Fish and birds, native to the area, will also dot the new scene.
Then Kalian created stencils and outlined drawings on the ducts, making it easy for others to assist in the creation of the artwork.
In early October volunteer artists of all abilities hauled out their paintbrushes to help create the new look.
“We just finished phase one,” Kalian said, “and then we ran out good weather.” The paint they’re using works best when applied in moderate temperatures. She expects to pick up the project again in April when warmer weather arrives.
“Now if you look at one section of a metal wall, there’s a map from Sandy Hook lighthouse to Barnegat lighthouse,” she said.
“It’ll be interactive,” Kalian said. “Kids will look at the map, see familiar places, names of rivers, and another areas.
A digital map will allow kids to find their towns and answer questions. “Kids will have to decipher it as a puzzle,” she said. “It’ll be fun and interactive.”
Kalian credits some “wonderful volunteers from inside and outside the hospital,” for helping with the project.
“I really believe that if we take care of the kids their emotional and physical health, we’ll make a difference,” she said. “They’ll grow up to be physically and emotionally healthy.”
This article was first published in the Nov. 2-9, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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