When creating the complete vision for the new Parkview Southwest Outpatient Center, the interior designers on the project knew they wanted to feature the special touch of a local artist. They reached out to Theoplis Smith III, known to those in the community (and beyond) as Phresh Laundry, for the perfect accents to punctuate the new facility.
“Often times, when patients and visitors come into our buildings, they aren’t comfortable in the space because they are carrying the weight of their own health concerns, or that of others,” Sarah Epple, interior designer, Planning, Design & Construction, Parkview Health, said. “Making a space that has elements of nature and beautiful artwork is calming. It serves as a welcome distraction and brings the environment to life.”
Knowing they wanted to work with someone from the community, the team utilized some of their contacts in the industry. “We knew that we wanted a local artist, and we wanted them to produce digital and digitally enhanced work,” Molly Lindsay, interior designer, Planning, Design & Construction, Parkview Health, said. “We spoke to some local framers and they provided recommendations, which brought us to Theoplis.”
Sarah and Molly had worked with Phresh Laundry before, and knew his talents were a tremendous fit for the new space. “The southwest building is more modern, so we wanted to showcase advancements in technology,” Molly said. “That feel, combined with the big open walls we had to fill, aligned with digital artwork. We asked Theo to produce multiple pieces at large scale to fill the space.”
Theoplis understood the vision immediately. “With this collaboration, I wanted to bring in elements of life, nature and positivity,” he said. “When you go into a clinical setting, it can be dreary. I made sure I put myself in the role of a person who works there, or someone coming to get treatment, or a person who needs help. With those people in mind, I knew I owed the Parkview team my excellence.”
Theoplis and the interior design team recognize that images have a unique power. “When people come into a place of healing, they need to have positivity, and having vibrant, bold artwork at the forefront, is symbolic of helping people grow and the body heal,” Theoplis said. “That energy is so important. It empowers people and gives them the audacity to get better.” The multidisciplinary artist is known for creating tailor-made experiences for the community–from graffiti to upscale and contemporary art, he prides himself on producing beautiful pieces to fit the assignment.
Beyond the beauty of the finished products, working with local creators has additional benefits. “During the building process, the artists come on-site with us,” Sarah said. “Molly and I had the chance to talk to Theo about our inspiration for the building, our thoughts and intentions, and our vision. Local artists are willing to be more collaborative, and Theo’s amazing to work with. He sent us his thoughts and we made some tweaks. We really wanted the artwork to pop in the more neutral spaces. We had the vision, and he worked outside the box and brought it to life.”
Theoplis agreed. “It’s like creating a song,” he explained. “I’m going to rise to the occasion and bring in these notes, so we’re all on the same page and it gets the care it needs.”
A lasting impression
By opening day, Phresh Laundry had provided 18 pieces for Parkview Southwest–beautiful works brought to life with oils, acrylics, aerosols and digital techniques. “A cornucopia of goodness,” as Theoplis put it. The scope of work took him just a month and a half. “I work fast, but I have fun while I’m doing it.”
He painted on a 48×48 piece and then broke it down, going from one big canvas, with big strokes, and, with feng sui in mind, studied the piece, went in digitally, and manipulated brush strokes and colors to get it where he wanted it. He then took four pictures and manipulated those further, breaking them down to create individual pieces.
“He exceeded our expectations on this project,” Molly said. “Our inspiration was nature, whether that was abstract or literal, and Theo definitely delivered the feel we wanted. When people walk into the space, I think the color, texture and imagery will lift their spirits and support a positive experience.”
Supporting local artists
“Parkview reaching out and funding local art is an honor, and so important,” Theoplis said. “Being someone who lives in the area, I know the arts are flourishing. As an advocate for the arts, partnering with a company this size, making moves together, and helping people see the big picture, that’s what it’s all about.”
The latest project is part of a bigger intention for the health system. “A while ago, we decided that, in both our community hospitals and Allen County facilities, we would feature the work of local artists,” Sarah said. “All you have to do is go downtown to see we have great local talent. We wanted to build relationships to, not only support the artists, but also create opportunities to feature their work in our facilities.
“We started a program in our community hospitals, where we invite local amateur and professional photographers to provide photos. That’s brought a lot of people into the buildings and elevated the comfort level for patients and visitors. It’s amazing to walk into a building and only see imagery from your county. We saw this work well with the new Parkview Kosciusko, opening early next year.
“At Electric Works, we asked a local photographer to come on-site in prior to the renovations and take photos of rust, peeling paint and other elements that captured the history of the building. These were turned into abstracts that hang in the clinic there.”
For Molly, showcasing the work of area talent is just another way to enhance the experience. “We want to support local art, but we also want people to feel connected with the artwork they see when they enter one of our buildings.”
For Phresh Laundry, the opportunity provides a platform for a broader message. “It’s very important to respect and be an advocate for the arts,” Theoplis said. “Reach out to local artists. There are people in your backyard doing great things in the world.”