When Art Plays a Part in Wellness

“BAC’s art on our walls makes our patients feel more at home. It’s a reminder that there is beauty in the world despite the troubles they are currently facing. The art is uplifting.”

 – Berit Madsen, MD, Director, Peninsula Cancer Center

Two paintings by artist Brooke Borcherding brighten Peninsula Cancer Center’s reception area. Gallery photo.


Throughout our Fund Drive—now about halfway through—we’ve shared stories about the programs that your gift supports. Through these programs, art plays many roles besides that of wall décor. Here’s an example:

In the last weeks of his life, an elderly man losing a battle with cancer found a place where he felt a sense of peace and belonging in the unlikeliest of places: his cancer treatment facility—or, more specifically, in front of a piece of art that hung on the facility’s wall. Throughout his many visits, the gentleman had come to love sitting in his wheelchair right in front of that painting, which depicted a peaceful forest landscape with golden sunlight filtering through the trees. As he gazed into the scene, he would declare to his caregivers and his daughter who brought him in for his treatments, “That’s where I’m going. That’s where I belong.”

That painting was hanging in Peninsula Cancer Center (PCC), in Poulsbo, Washington, just one of several organizations and healthcare facilities throughout Kitsap County that take part in our Art Rental Program, in which a selection of original artworks are thoughtfully curated and installed by our staff on facility walls. The works hang for a period of six months, then rotate out for a fresh selection.

Art in public places adds life to any environment, but it can really make a difference in a healthcare setting. That’s not lost on oncologist Berit Madsen, co-founder of PCC, whose goal has always been to provide a warmer, brighter place for her patients to receive care than the usual sterile hospital setting. “Patients love the art,” says Dr. Madsen. “We get comments all day long about the positive environment which it fosters.”

Dr. Madsen learned about BAC’s Art Rental Program years ago from Catherine Michel, the interior designer she hired to design the Center. Catherine herself had been Dr. Madsen’s patient in 2001, and the two became close friends. Catherine, also a fine artist, suggested reaching out to BAC to get help “filling the space with real art.” Says Catherine, “We didn’t want to just hang posters in the corridors, we wanted something meaningful, and art can reach so many more people on these walls.” Since then, the works of many BAC artists have inspired and comforted PCC patients. Some artists themselves have been patients. In fact, two of Catherine Michel’s pieces were hung at PCC this week.

Interior designer/BAC artist Catherine Michel (left) and PCC director Dr. Berit Madsen chat about their years of friendship and collaboration. They are seated in front of two of Catherine’s artworks—both BAC Art Rental pieces. Gallery photo.

This program is yet one more piece of our bigger picture as the only nonprofit art gallery in Kitsap County that supports working artists’ livelihoods through year-round exhibitions and sales, while also providing completely free art education and outreach to schools, seniors, and the healthcare community.

You can ensure that this meaningful program continues to benefit patients, their families, facility personnel—and of course, the artists themselves. Please donate today and help us complete the picture that shares the nurturing and curative power of art.


How a Refugee Supports a Refuge


Artist Henry Dietrich. Photo courtesy Tom Lonner.

If you’ve visited our gallery anytime within the last five or six years, it’s likely that you’ve spotted an ever-revolving display of paintings by mid-century painter Henry Dietrich. Their bold colors and the sharply delineated contours of their subjects are hard to miss.

German-born Dietrich started his art career at age 16, immersing himself in drawing and painting. He enrolled in a prestigious Berlin art school in 1935, but during the rise of the Third Reich, half-Jewish Dietrich was told he would not be allowed to continue his studies. Finding refuge in Shanghai—China being the only country he could enter without a visa—he met his wife-to-be, Martha, in 1944. The couple set out to make a new life in the United States in 1948, following which Dietrich produced a staggering 500 paintings until his death in 2000.

Henry Dietrich paintings

Newly delivered works of Henry Dietrich arrive in our annex.

Despite his clear talent, distinctive artistic voice, and the prolific nature of his work, Henry distrusted galleries and gallery representation. Thus, much of the work he produced remained unsold. He made his living as an illustrator for The San Francisco Chronicle.

Bainbridge Island couple Tom Lonner and Elizabeth Ward became great friends with the Dietrichs while they too lived in the Bay Area at the time. Upon Henry’s death, he bequeathed more than 400 of his paintings to them.

With the recent settlement of Martha Dietrich’s estate, we are pleased to present some of the last remaining works of Henry Dietrich’s, some of Martha’s favorites, which she kept on her own walls until her passing.

The couple pondered the fate of such a large collection, wondering if they could make a bigger impact by facilitating the sale of Henry’s works. Elizabeth, a board member of West Sound Wildlife Shelter (WSWS), decided to give that organization the opportunity to sell the art and use the proceeds to support their operations. While the organization was grateful, they were not set up for the business of selling art. Enter Bainbridge Arts & Crafts.

West Sound Wildlife Shelter receives 50% of proceeds from sales of Dietrich works.

West Sound Wildlife Shelter receives 50% of proceeds from sales of Dietrich works.

Nurtured by the Lonners, an incredibly fruitful partnership was forged between WSWS and BAC, two longstanding local nonprofits whose missions are markedly different but equally worthy. From the walls of our gallery, hundreds of Dietrich’s works have found their way to collectors and institutions around the country, with Bainbridge Arts & Crafts and West Sound Wildlife Shelter benefiting from the sales in equal measure.

With the recent settlement of Martha Dietrich’s estate, we are pleased to present some of the last remaining works of Henry Dietrich’s, some of Martha’s favorites, which she kept on her own walls until her passing.

Bainbridge Arts & Crafts sincerely thanks Tom Lonner and Elizabeth Ward for their enduring gift, and we celebrate the work of our partner, West Sound Wildlife Shelter.