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Rio Rancho Observer

Troy Greer gazed at a photo of water cascading down a series of stepped rocks, with colored maple leaves scattered across the foreground set amid a lush forest.

"We used to live near the Appalachian Trail, and this reminds me of hiking there," said Greer, CEO at Lovelace West-side Hospital.

Greer was gazing at a one of nearly 40 pieces of art that grace the walls of the hospital where the Rio Rancho Art Association has regular shows.

The changing of the guard - when a new show is displayed - is a day eagerly anticipated by the entire hospital staff, Greer said.

"We always want to see what the new pieces are going to look like," he said. "There's so much diversity and so many different styles and media, it's great to see."

The gallery showing, which began in the mid-2000s, pre-dates Greer's tenure at the hospital, but he said there was no way he was going to mess with a good thing.

As a matter of fact, he's encouraged the practice by adding gallery gutters along the ceiling so the artists no longer have to pound nails into the walls.

"This gives our patients and their visitors and even the staff something to look at and appreciate," Greer said. "It can be very therapeutic."

Indeed, one of the artists, Nan Adamson, said she witnessed just such an occasion when a patient stopped to look at one of the pieces.

"She just stared at this one landscape for a while then said, ‘OK, now I'm ready for my surgery,'" Adamson recalled the person saying. ‘"I just needed to get into a better place first.'"

That's exactly why Greer appreciates the artwork in the halls.

"It showcases the artists and gives them a place to show their work," he said. "But it's also good for our patients."

The members of the art association, who lack a formal gallery, are simply grateful to have a place to show off their work, particularly since it occasionally leads to sales - many to the staff.

"It is a very successful venue and RRAA truly appreciates the opportunity to hang our work there," said Peggy Weyers, an art association member who coordinates the project.

Every two months, the selections are changed, with up to 38 new pieces selected. Any member can put up to two pieces in the show, Weyers said.

"On the appointed day, we start at 8 a.m. to set up our sign-in and sign-out table, and we begin taking down the show and getting ready for the second part, which is hanging a new show," Weyers said. "We have folks that are always there to help us, such as Tom and Phyliss Popp, Ivan Taylor, Bob Crowley, plus two ladies, Carol Sawyer signs in work and Joanne McDevitt signs out work. We try to be as unobtrusive as possible and respect the space of the sick and employees. Lovelace has always been terrific people to work with."

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