Although this artist is based in Los Angeles, he wanted to send hundreds of his paintings 3,000 miles away to New York City to remind hospital staffers that he—and the whole country—is grateful for their hard work in the fight against COVID-19.
As a means of commemorating their heroics, Michael Gittes gifted a unique floral painting to every doctor, receptionist, janitor, inventory manager, cook, administrator, and nurse at the Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn.
At the height of the pandemic, the nonprofit healthcare facility was chock-a-block full of patients, sometimes treating over 100 people per day.
Gittes wanted to say a special ‘thank you’, and used syringes to create the expressionist paintings.
“When they actually got to touch and see the paintings, it was like Christmas,” Interfaith chief financial officer Tracy Green told CNN. “They just felt like … they’ve been working tirelessly the last couple of months and for someone to see that, and just give them a gift, they were just so happy.”
“We love you, everybody loves you. You’re loved by millions of people you’ll never meet. You’re not a stranger to anyone. These flowers are from everyone,” Gittes relayed to the Interfaith staff.
Gittes’ work has been exhibited at The National Portrait Gallery in London, the Park Avenue Armory in New York, and even in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. The framing and shipping of the paintings was facilitated by money amassed by Gittes from private collectors purchasing his paintings.
Every unique flower represents each employee’s contribution to tending a garden of life in the Big Apple, while the use of the syringe, he feels, represents the healing power of both the hospital workers and his gifted pieces.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize how mental and physical and emotional this pandemic has been, not only to our medical workers and hospital workers, but to their families,” Eli Bronner, Gittes’ manager and dealer, told CNN.
Gittes’ hoped that seeing the painting in the staffers’ houses or offices might help to offer “a moment of peace from the madness,” Bronner said.