While typically on display in museums and art galleries around the world, the artwork of Los Angeles-based artist Michael Gittes has recently made its way into the apartments and office cubicles of 1,800 employees of a hospital in Brooklyn.
Looking to show his appreciation for the heroic efforts of frontline workers, Gittes filled a truck with 1,800 paintings he had completed since the start of the pandemic and had them shipped 2,777 miles to Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn, which was hit particularly hard this spring by Covid-19.
“I wanted every single employee — all 1,800 — to have a painting to show how much they are loved and appreciated,” said Gittes, who spent more than three months painting about 100 flowers a day, using a syringe as “a symbol of healing.”
“I decided to paint flowers because even though these people are all part of a big beautiful garden, I wanted them to know they were all individual flowers, and without them, there would be no garden. I wanted it to have a ‘secret admirer’ kind of vibe,” he added.
On July 13, after the delivery truck pulled in front of Interfaith Medical Center, Gittes’s paintings were carefully unloaded and handed out to every single employee at the hospital. From custodians and cafeteria workers to security guards, nurses, doctors, and chief executives.
Gittes, who titled his project “Strangers to No One,” wasn’t there for the gifting, but everyone felt the emotional impact of his generosity, said Tracy Green, the hospital’s chief financial officer.
“Hospital staff in all departments came to work even when members of their family had contracted coronavirus to support their colleagues and care [for] hundreds of strangers,” she said. “Perseverance got us through and then comes a package — a piece of art in a sturdy wooden frame, simple and beautiful, as an acknowledgment of their sacrifice.”