Gilbert artists’ work honors medical workers - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Gilbert artists’ work honors medical workers

September 22nd, 2020 SanTan Sun News
Gilbert artists’ work honors medical workers

By Srianthi Perera

People lucky enough to escape the debilitating illness caused by COVID-19 may not have met the healthcare workers on the frontlines.

But they are aware of the critical and dangerous role they are playing during these troubling times.

Four members of the Gilbert Visual Art League joined the international community to pay homage to healthcare workers via brushstrokes.

Jane Bradley, Rosalie Vaccaro, Shelley Marler and Glenda Nieman have painted their appreciation of medical heroes and sent their portraits to the subjects.

“Each health care worker has a story. The bravery and selflessness of those on the frontlines is amazing. The art that has been created for them around the world is a small offering for what
they do,” said Jane Bradley, who took the initiative on the project on behalf of the Gilbert group.

Glenda Nieman painted Ohio Registered Nurse Corey.

Bradley created a portrait of an anesthesiology resident in Chicago and a doctor at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, among others.

She plans to do more as soon as she recovers from eye surgery.

“The pandemic is frightening to everyone. It has changed the whole world. We just have to do the best to stay sane as we can and to find a way to help others. For me that is painting,” she said.

The project started in England when artist Tom Croft presented an online exhibition of more than 700 works of staff at National Health Service during U.K.’s lockdown. His idea was to galvanize artists across the country and celebrate the frontline workers.

The idea spread around the world’s arts community almost as easily as the virus did. Bradley was contacted by French artist Aldo Balding who started a group called Soignantssurlefront on Facebook. 

“We put offers on our pages both on Facebook and Instagram for people to request paintings. After completing two of my paintings, some of my students also followed. Once we painted these, we posted them with information about the people we have painted,” Bradley said.

Nieman completed two portraits of nurses on the COVID-19 frontlines: Corey, an RN in Ohio and Ginny, who answered a call to work with New York state patients.

A retired educator from the Chandler Unified School District, the artist said she is humbled to be a part of the movement and will continue to explore more avenues to share. She paints nature, animals and portraits of people.

“I want very much to be able to give to others, especially to those who are risking their own lives to help those in need. When Jane (Bradley) offered this opportunity, I jumped on it. I felt that this would be one way to honor our medical heroes,” she said.

“I may not have the skills necessary to help ease someone’s pain in these difficult situations, but I can share the skills I do have,” Nieman added.

Shelley Marler asked around for subjects and settled on Dayton Gardner, a frontline medical worker on the emergency respiratory floor in a Utah hospital.

Rosalie Vaccarro paid tribunte to Jacqueline Rios, a phlebotomist at New York City’s Montifiore Hospital.

“It was a great experience painting Dayton,” Marler said. “I kept in contact with him throughout the project and came to appreciate what he does to help his patients.

“The doctors and RNs don’t get enough credit for the time, expertise and extra hours they put in treating COVID-19 patients. Anything we can do to show our appreciation is worth it.”

Marler, who creates a type of circular dotted paintings called mandalas, is also creating a medical mandala for Gardner, and others for a chiropractor, holistic medical doctor and a urologist.

Of the two portraits Vaccaro created, one is of her granddaughter who is working in an assisted living facility in Con

necticut, and who recently got licensed as a CNA. The young woman became sick with the virus but has since recovered.

“I believe she deserves a portrait,” Vaccaro said.

Even if most people are not working in medical care, they are dealing with the depressing effects of long-term quarantining.

“As all of us, we are feeling tired and confined, but trying to keep our spirits optimistic,” Vaccaro said. “I miss the camaraderie of painting in groups with other artists. I am painting other portraits and paintings to keep my skills improving.”

Shelley Marler painted Dayton Gardner, a frontline medical worker on the emergency respiratory floor in a Utah hospital.

Nieman said that the pandemic took her by surprise.

“I never imagined the scenario that we are now living with. It saddens me to hear of all the suffering that it has caused throughout the world,” she said. “At the same time, I am more aware of what is important in life and value the kindness and concern that others share.”

Bradley received an email from a colleague of the anesthesiologist she painted out of a photograph. She wrote:

“James is an Anesthesiology resident in Chicago who has been taking care of COVID patients. As an anesthesiologist, he is responsible for performing emergent procedures which place him at the highest risk of COVID exposure, as those procedures aerosolize the virus.  However, he never complains and whenever there is downtime, he is always goofing around and cheering people up.

He hates taking pictures of himself, but before the pandemic, he had a slow shift and took this silly photo. He is holding a laryngoscope, which is the tool used for intubations. They are the most common tool of an anesthesiologist and is used on most COVID patients who end up needing a ventilator.”

To read more about these artists, visit their websites at;;