Several weeks ago I wrote a blog post about local businesses supporting the arts and local artists. This week, I was invited for a tour of Owens & Minor’s art collection at its headquarters office in Mechanicsville. Owens & Minor is a Fortune 500 company focused on serving the healthcare industry with dedication, innovation, and a passion for excellent customer service. It’s clear they also have a passion for surrounding their people with beautiful and creative art too.
For many years, the halls of Owens & Minor’s offices have included beautiful works of art from artists here in Richmond and from around the world, much of it collected by G. Gilmer “Gil” Minor, III, great grandson of the founder, and his wife Charlotte, a CultureWorks’ Director Emeritus.
While we took the tour, Owens & Minor teammates would stop to look at the piece and mention something new they noticed about the piece. Some would say “That’s one of my favorites” as they headed off to a meeting. It was interesting that just by our being there to look at the art it seemed to cause people to take more notice of it.
We saw a number of works by Nell Blair. Blair studied under Theresa Pollak, who founded the VCU Arts School in 1928 beginning with a single painting class.
The collection also includes works by German-born artist Wolf Kahn. Kahn studied with renowned teacher and Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann in the 1940s and 1950s and has become renowned in his own right.
An art dealer friend of mine said she would “give my right arm to have one” of Kahn’s works. These works might be behind a velvet rope or a glass case in some museums or galleries. Not here. Here it’s about making it a part of the environment, and keeping it accessible.
The collection on display is extensive. We saw over two dozen artists in the collection. It seemed that from any given spot in the building I could spot at least 3 pieces. And all of them have a story.
Why the focus on art in the workplace? It not only sets the tone for the office and makes it beautiful, it’s good for business. Art can in very subtle ways encourage people to see the world differently and help to generate new ideas that may become a company’s next big product or service.
What art inspires you in your workplace? Post your favorites to Facebook and tag @CultureWorks Richmond so we can share them.