Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s roughly 30 acres sits on the edge of West Hollywood like a college campus that one wouldn’t really walk through without a reason. For many, the only reason has been to get medical care at Cedars, whose medical services are ranked as among the best in the nation.
But there is another reason for taking a walk through the Cedars campus, especially on some fine weekend afternoon or weekday evening. That is its impressive collection of sculptures and other work by artists such as Frank Stella and Jonathan Barofsky and Robert Irwin.
Cedars has been collecting art since the late 1970s. Its collection currently includes more than 4,000 works of art, most of those on display inside its many buildings with the intention of helping patients and their families through the healing power of art.
The collection got its start thanks to Marcia Simon Weisman, an art collector whose husband, Frederick, was hospitalized in a coma in 1966. When he came out of the coma he was confused and disoriented and had trouble remembering his wife’s name. Marcia Weisman used the art they had collected to stimulate his memory.
“As the story goes, Marcia would bring pieces to the hospital and leave them by her husband’s bedside so that he would see them when he opened his eyes,” says John T. Lange, curator of the Cedars-Sinai art collection, in story about the collection on the Cedars’ website.
When Weisman recognized a work by Jackson Pollak and spoke the artist’s name out loud, his wife knew he was on the way to recovery.
The Weisman’s began donating their art to Cedars’ after its 1976 expansion. They gave works by a range of artists such as Paul Cezanne, Max Ernst, Roy Lichtenstein, Rene Magritte, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.
Now Cedars has an Advisory Council for the Arts (ACA) comprised of art collectors and art professionals that reviews the work offered to it.
While the bulk of the Cedars’ collection is in the corridors and lobbies of its buildings, there are nine works easily accessible to anyone walking through the grounds.
The oldest is a marble reproduction of Michelangelo’s Moses, which sits at the corner of Gracie Allen Drive and George Burns Road. One of the newer is “Garlands,” an installation by Jennifer Steinkamp that exemplifies the range of works that Cedars displays. Steinkamp is a Los Angeles installation artist, and “Garlands” is a video work projected across the walls of two buildings on Gracie Allen Drive that are shaded by an overhead walkway. “Garlands” is a projection of shimmering images of flowers, viewable during the evening and at noon (at other times intruding daylight makes it impossible to see the work).
Another recent installation is Frank Stella’s 2004 “adjoeman,” at the corner of Beverly and San Vicente boulevards. “Adjoeman,” which is a Balinese word that means “showing off” or “decorative,” evokes images of a ship, with a sail that would shift in the wind if it weren’t locked down for safety reasons.
Jonathan Barofsky’s “Molecule Man,” on Alden Drive near the parking garage, seems especially appropriate for a work on the grounds of a medical center. “I was fascinated by this ‘molecule idea’, the simple fact that even though we appear to be quite solid, we are in fact composed of a molecular structure which in itself is mostly composed of water and air,” Barofksy explains on his website.
The collection continues to grow. Lange, who has been its curator for 11 years, says he’s always on the lookout for new sites to display outdoor work. When one is discovered, the advisory board looks for artists and works that might be appropriate for the site.
The map above shows the current outdoor collection, all viewable with an easy walk. Parking is available in garages and lots on the Cedars’ campus.