July 24, 2020

North Addition’s new art connects to culture of the region and of UC Davis Health


Art has been part of the UC Davis Health experience for nearly 40 years, enriching the daily lives of staff and patients and adding depth, connection and surprising beauty to the health care setting.

Workers in June hang the untitled mural by Fred Uhl Ball in the North Addition lobby. Workers in June hang the untitled mural by Fred Uhl Ball in the North Addition lobby.

The latest building to get an infusion from the UC Davis Health art collection is the still-new North Addition Office Building. Its lobbies, hallways, meeting rooms and offices – and the people who work there – have seen an array of new pieces from mainstays of the collection to new works from regional artists installed in recent months.

“Art can be different for everyone,” said Beth Jones, the art consultant who helps guide the UC Davis Health 2,600-plus piece art collection. “Some people are very sensitive to their environment, some people don’t really notice it. But the art still has an impact on them.”

UC Davis Health chief wellness officer Peter Yellowlees said research shows a real value of art in clinics and hospitals, and it can reach people’s sensibilities everywhere.

 “Art is important to everyone who spends even a little time in the space, from messengers and cleaners to physicians and nurses to our patients,” said Yellowlees, a professor of psychiatry. “People may not be aware of the impact, but art can both relax us and stimulate us. It takes us to another place. It connects us all.

“In an office environment like the North Addition, the art can be rejuvenating, it can help people think creatively, and it can be a reminder of our own humanity,” he said.

Because there are no patient clinics in the North Addition, Jones and her consulting partner, Lynda Jolley, chose pieces to fit a more office-like atmosphere.

“This space has department heads and the leadership of the hospital and health system,” Jones said. “We wanted the art to be invigorating and inspiring, and in some areas a little challenging and thought-provoking.”

UC Davis Health CEO David Lubarsky asked that the works placed in the North Addition connect to the region and the community. A number of pieces are from regional artists and link to the history of Northern California and of UC Davis Health.

The mural “Arcadia,” the first piece commissioned for the UC Davis art collection back in 1983, finds a new home in the North Addition first floor conference room.

They include two murals from the late Fred Uhl Ball, a renowned Sacramento artist. One untitled work with blues, grays and greens evokes a dense forest and hangs in the building lobby. The other is a mainstay of the collection, the work titled “Arcadia.” In 1983, it was the first piece commissioned for UC Davis Health. Its dense, textured gold and brown hills lead to tall, white-capped mountains and suggest the Sierra Nevada range.

“It’s installed pretty gloriously in the first-floor conference room where leadership meets,” Jones said. “It’s the perfect place for it. It’s an exhilarating, inspiring piece, and it provides a sense of continuity.”

More than 80 works of art have been placed around the building. Some are newly commissioned, some come from UC Davis Health’s robust collection. Here are descriptions from Jones and Jolley of a few works they said are particularly notable:

  • Two large paintings in the lobby from Bay Area artist Lorene Anderson: “She duplicates the shape of Sacramento’s two rivers, offering a sense of our geography and place. The many layers of medical science and its research and development are considered in her technique of layering paint and medium to create depth.”
  • Shaped digital medallions in the lobby from Bay Area artist Pantea Karimi: “These prints of medicinal plants on aluminum are based on The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi, a 12th century manuscript from Andalusia, Spain. She used the traditional shapes of Persian decorative tiles inspired by her childhood in Shiraz, Iran.”
  • Digital image outside the second floor executive suite (others are around the building) by Bay Area artist Penny Olson: “An abstraction of a moment – the light of a specific time of day or year – and how it falls on a plant or blossom in her garden.”
  • A painting on shaped wood on the fourth floor from Sacramento artist Jose Di Gregorio: “The intricate geometric patterns combine vivid gradient colors. It depicts ethereal themes and is reminiscent of kaleidoscopes and visual tracers.”

Those descriptions, Jones said, are what she and Jolley experience. Everyone will see and feel the art differently.

“What’s important is that UC Davis Health offers an opportunity to experience art to so many people,” Jones said. “Sometimes we don’t even know why, but art makes our lives more meaningful.”

Learn more about the UC Davis Health art collection here.