COLORADO SPRINGS — Today, nearly 70 amazing large photographs on canvas of stunning Colorado landscapes and views were randomly awarded to UCHealth employees in southern Colorado.
The prints were generously donated to the UCHealth Memorial Hospital Foundation, not for the hospital, but for those who work there. For the past several weeks, the artwork has been on display in the lobby of Memorial Hospital Central for employees to view.
Kate Maiurro, the executive director of the foundation, says she has seen many generous and meaningful gifts to the foundation through the COVID-19 pandemic, but “this is unique and over the last nine months we have seen a lot of that, but this takes the cake. A local artist, Paul Kulik, worked as an engineer for years. After retiring and a 30-year hiatus after learning photography in high school, he came back to it. He really wants to do this as a labor of love to say thank you to our healthcare providers.”
Paul donated the canvases, and the foundation was able to get them framed. Kate explains, “We have a healing arts fund that we have had for some time, and it was just waiting for this fabulous project, so we could put these dollars to use. We were able to work with a local canvas stretcher to get these stretched, framed and mounted.”
Colleen Roy is a recreational therapist at Memorial and is one of the many healthcare heroes hoping to take one of the prints home. “When I first came down to the first floor (lobby) and I saw these beautiful pictures, I thought, ‘Wow, this is really neat; I wonder if they are just hanging new pictures in the hospital.’ Then I read the sign saying that this gentleman was so kind and sweet and donated these to the staff for us to register for and be able to win and take into our homes … it was just amazing, so I did that right away.”
Colleen tells me she registered for five prints, hoping to win just one. Her favorite print is of a coffee shop in Crested Butte. Colleen says, "You're my good luck charm, Ira. I have my fingers crossed. It’s just the beautiful colors, the aspens, the license plates -- it just has a cool vibe about it.”
The most popular print drew more than 1,000 entries. It’s a panoramic called Blue Sunset mounted on a 13” by 72 ½” inch frame. Paul wrote descriptions about each of the photographs. Blue Sunset, he said, was one of those “right place, right time” situations.
"I really had to go to the bathroom and was lucky that the state of Colorado anticipated my needs and placed a rest stop overlooking the South Park plateau. Upon exiting the loo, I was confronted with this otherworldly sunset and rushed back to my car to get my camera.”
There was an average of more than 450 entries for each print, so sadly not everyone will win, but the gesture from Paul and simply displaying his work for a short time in the hospital has done a lot to boost morale.
Kate adds, “Oh my gosh, people are in the hallways regularly (oohing and aahing) these pieces. Some are as large as 10 feet high, and they're really quite stunning. Bringing a little bit of beautiful nature and landscape inside is a breath of fresh air.”
For Colleen, even if she doesn’t win a print, an impression was made on her heart that’s more than visual. “You are always impressed at what the people in our community will do to support us, and this is such an amazing and different way. It's a little piece of him we get to take home and always treasure during this difficult time. I think that's amazing.”
Paul says "I would like to thank UCHealth and the Memorial foundation crew for allowing me to express my profound thanks to those frontline caregivers that selflessly put their necks on the line for the rest of us. I donated rolled up canvases, but the Memorial Foundation went the extra mile by investing thousands in stretching and framing these pieces. This was not a trivial expense, believe me. For those of you willing to share space in your home with one of my canvases, I sincerely thank you, and hope that you love it enough to have it forever. From time to time please look upon it and know that you are loved."
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