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Workers in a busy office don’t have time to think about the orchids in the lobby or the Cavanah landscape on the wall, but the little-noticed accoutrements play a vital role in mental health, creativity and productivity in the workplace. 

Art as a connection to community

Some companies display the work of local painters, sculptors and other artisans in their offices. One Fort Myers company held an opening in its lobby to introduce the artist whose works adorn its walls.

Artist and art broker Dave Rees, owner of Art HC&H Consultants LLC, hosted such an art opening at a medical specialist’s office in Fort Myers several years ago. “I did an opening-type event at a plastic surgeon’s facility in front of Gulf Coast Medical Center,” Rees says. “It was a very high-end display of hand-made art pieces, mind-blowing art.”

Rees helps connect artists, sculptors and painters with hotels, law offices, medical practices and other businesses that buy their works of art. “When I first meet clients, which come in the form of boards of directors, head designers and facility managers, I walk them through their space to get a feel for the type of look they want,” he says.

Rees contracts with Florida artists who create fine art, such as R.J. Wiley from Bonita Springs. Rees also promotes such artists as Doug Cavanah and Steve Vaughn. He teaches buyers of quality art to pick media that can stand up to sunlight, humidity and temperature. For instance, giclee is a technology for fine art or photograph reproduction that uses high-quality inkjet to make individual copies. 

“The technology protects the color in the reproductions because the inks are indelible for 200 years,” he says.

Rees has had Lee Health and its five hospitals as a client for the past 25 years, as well as Johns Hopkins All Children’s in Fort Myers, Main Street USA in Disney World and more than a hundred other corporate customers in Southwest Florida.

Parker consults in his gallery

One of those artists Rees works with is Tim Parker, the artist-owner of Art2D Gallery & Studio, 2076 J and C Blvd. in Naples. Parker was an advertising illustrator in New York City for 20 years before he moved to Naples a dozen years ago. “I create the art—paintings, mostly abstract, semi-abstract landscapes,” says Parker, who sells and installs his paintings at law firms, consultancies and other companies in Southwest Florida. 

The point of contact can be the building’s interior designer, the property owner or a 10-member condo board.

“Companies come to my gallery and … if they like my work, I visit their offices and take pictures of the areas where they want art,” he says. After further consultation, Parker uses Photoshop software to place the paintings on the walls of virtual building lobbies, hallways, conference rooms and interior offices.

“It’s the best way to show them what the artwork will look like in that environment,” he says. “If they just want stuff that matches the furniture, they can pick that up somewhere else. If they want something colorful, original, they contact me, and we go in that direction.”

From sprout to growing plant business

Brad Miller remembers driving his Honda Civic filled with plants and bags of potting soil around Fort Myers in 1983. He was just 22 and—let’s dispense with the puns up front—came by his green thumb as a young sprout.

“I learned gardening at a young age,” Miller remembers. “We were five kids; my dad got into landscaping at home, and we all worked in the yard. On Sundays, we went to church and the beach. After church, but before we went to the beach, we learned gardening at the end of the shovel.”

He waited on tables at The Veranda restaurant in Fort Myers as he launched his career as an indoor landscaper. Today, his company—Interior Plant Scapes of Fort Myers—is one of the largest independently owned and operated indoor landscaping companies in Florida, counting among its customers Shell Point Country Club, The Palms, office-sharing venue VentureX, even a Maserati dealership.

The company uses its “living ambience” philosophy to design and provide philodendrons, bromeliads, golden pothos, peace lilies, Boston ferns and hundreds of other species of indoor flora in hospitality venues, luxury high-rise condominiums, hotels and resorts, country clubs, senior living communities and Class A office buildings.

From a single plant to a tree 

Miller’s gardeners can place a single decorative vase with an elegant orchid on one desk, create a large living wall of plants in an office suite or provide greenery to inhabit a lobby in a 30-story office building. He sets his indoor greenery in decorative planters, pots and varied other containers, which creates a more compelling and attractive whole. “When you plant with the right decorative planter, it’s stunning when it comes together.”

Miller’s is one of many SWFL companies that provide plants to businesses. Simon Brooker, president and CEO of Foliage Design Systems in Naples, provides and maintains living plant walls and entire plant systems in the area’s iconic malls and outdoor venues. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve, it’s all about bucket trucks and industrial lifts, steel-toed boots and industrial lighting. You can see Brooker’s lights circling the trunks of 80-foot royal palm trees lining the driveways of country club communities or outlining bridges and spanning canals in exclusive waterfront neighborhoods.

“We do seasonal lighting and plant decorating for about 200 communities, condo associations and business parks,” Brooker said the week before Thanksgiving. “I have crews and trucks working around the clock.”

So, as you view those plants in the corner or take in the beautiful landscape on the wall, you are under the effects of neuro-aesthetics. Artwork that is perceived to be beautiful actually stimulates the part of the brain responsible for pleasure, while art sparks conversation, ignites creative juices and helps workers focus. 

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