Company commissions art to help healing

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Print this page by Heather B. Hayes

Only a handful of companies specialize in providing artwork to hospitals and health-care systems, and all of them are located west of the Mississippi River — until now. Late last year, Distinctive Art Source, an art consulting firm with health-care clients in 30 states, relocated to Northern Virginia from Spring, Texas, near Houston.

Barbara Harriman, the president/creative director of Distinctive Art Source,  says the relocation saves her and her six employees a lot of travel time because the majority of their clients are clustered in the mid-Atlantic states.

“We are now a car drive away from a large number of our clients, and the timing is beautiful in that many of them have large expansions going on or are in the process of purchasing additional hospitals and want to start art programs similar to what they’ve done previously in other facilities,” she explains. The firm also will be closer to Lexington-based Shenandoah Framing, which takes care of its framing and shipping tasks.

Harriman says that her company has grown because of its ability to mesh a health-care facility’s design and marketing vision with artwork that can comfort patients and help them heal. The company seeks out local artists to create works that reflects diversity, hope and the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

“Ten years ago, we had to sort of explain to health-care executives how art can help their patients,” she says. “Now they’ll tell you, ‘We know it can help and we want a program, we’re just looking for the right person to help us implement it.’”

Harriman expects a 40 percent growth in revenue in 2011 and plans to hire at least three more employees by the end of the year. “We are busy, and we couldn’t be happier to be exactly where we are,” she says.

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