2006-12-22 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

The Power Of Tranquility Rockaway Artists Alliance
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

The Power Of Tranquility
Rockaway Artists Alliance


Artist George Marian, this piece is one of six on display at the Citicorp exhibit”
Artist George Marian, this piece is one of six on display at the Citicorp exhibit” Picture yourself standing along a beautiful promenade next to a tranquil blue sea. Imagine a column of cool water descending into the gentle, calm fountain below. You are surrounded by flowers, water lilies, soft blues, pinks, soft browns and beige. Now picture a caring staff attending to your needs. This is the new mammography suite at Peninsula Hospital Center. Everything in it speaks of tranquility. From the moment one enters, everything about this suite is designed to make the woman or man coming for a mammography comfortable, at ease and safe. (Yes, there are men who must undergo mammograms.)

Nancy Vardakis, who is a trustee on the Executive Board of Peninsula Hospital Center (PHC), is the person responsible for the aesthetics of this suite. (She also coordinated the aesthetic design of PHC’s Angels on the Bay Pediatric Unit.) Recognizing that a mammogram can be a stressful experience for the bravest of people – an experience that prevents some from seeking this potentially life-saving procedure — she sought to reduce and alleviate this stress. Vardakis even spoke to the mammography technicians to identify the exact needs of the women and men coming in. The suite consists of one large room converted from two smaller rooms and a renovated pre-existing room. Vardakis worked with the hospital’s construction staff, chose color schemes, motifs, plants, flowers, prints of paintings and the two mirrors that make the rooms appear larger and unconfining. The top borders of the gentle pink and blue walls is a repeating water lily motif, echoing the large print of a famous Monet canvas of that blossom that hangs next to one of the mammography machines. One can become lost in these images – lost and calmed. Other paintings include Marysia Burr’s “Parisian Afternoon III,” an image of a fountain, and Howard Behran’s young couple walking along a “Bellagio Promenade.” Not only does everything speak of tranquility, they speak of life. Green plants, flowers and paintings of flowers. Because anticipation and waiting for test results can be stressful, the changing room carries through on these themes. During the mammogram a woman or man can simultaneously watch a 20 inch plasma flat TV screen and DVD player capable of showing a music video with nature sounds. Or one can choose to watch a DVD instructing how to do self exams of the breast.

According to Vardakis, the new equipment being used is top-of-the-line. The Co-Directors of the Department of Imaging Services, Stanley Sprecher, MD and Richard Steinberg, MD are Board Certified radiologists. Vardakis continues that they are highly regarded and recognized as top notch radiologists in the city. James Martinez, RTR, is Administrative Director. I spoke to Patti Murray who is one of the Radiologic Technologist-Mammographers (RTM). In doing so, I became acutely aware of how sensitive she and her colleagues are to their patients. Many have told them, she stated, that they feel that the staff cares about them and treats them beautifully. Murray says that she and the others try to respect the time and needs of those coming in and try to accommodate them. She was very pleased to tell me that the new machines are faster, making the experience more comfortable. Most of the staff has 15 to 20 years experience. “We develop a relationship [with the people.] It’s like seeing a friend once a year.” The other RTMs are Eileen McDonald, Claire Closs and Michelle Burchette.

If anxiety is keeping you from having a mammogram, remember, a mammogram can save a life.

Jeff Berman has finished a commission of several pastel paintings to be used by Ink Press Paper for a campaign to promote papers for art wholesalers and retailers. The images will be used to show the versatility of the fine art papers. The company has recently expanded its facilities and capabilities to increase its mark. The artist has been successful with his pastel art during the last two years,¬†at the same time the paper company decided to expand its paper line and sales to the fine art community. In the near future the new images will also be posted on the company’s website.

“MULTICULTURAL ,” a Rockaway Artists Alliance group exhibition, showcases work of six RAA members born outside the USA. The exhibit is located in the rotunda of the Citibank office building in Long Island City, One Court Square, (44th Drive and Hunter Street) and is on view into January during office hours Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For information please call 917 306-8729.

RAA’s next exhibition is “Where Flowers Bloom in Winter,” January 20-February 18, 2007. Opening reception: January 21, 1-3 p.m. For information and directions please call the RAA office at 718 474-0861 or www. rockawayartistsalliance.org.

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