By Kymberly Taylor | Photography by Geoffrey Hodgdon
The art one sees in most offices is uninspired and safe. Landscape paintings are careful not to offend, pictures of flower-filled vases never demand a second look, or prints of hounds leaping fences in the English countryside are pleasant in a distant kind of way. And what about the ubiquitous paintings or photographs of the Chesapeake Bay sunset—often beautiful but alas, a cliché.
However, boring art is not necessary. When used effectively, art can enliven an office, express a company’s personality, and even affect a client’s mood. ProMD Health founder Dr. George Gavrila understands that the office is a special visual sphere, one that may communicate through color, form, subject, and space. Art in the office is an opportunity to connect nonverbally, to help buoy up a person’s mind and soul, believes Gavrila, whose firm specializes in integrative and anti-aging medical care.
With art’s many benefits in mind, Gavrila chose to transform his Annapolis office by turning it essentially into a gallery featuring professional striking vintage photography by Slim Aarons (1916-2006). A former wartime photographer in the Army for the military magazine Yank, Aarons covered and documented the frontlines during World War II, where he won a purple heart. After the war, he needed catharsis to put the bombed-out beaches, casualties, and war-torn lands behind him. He moved to California and began photographing “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places,” he has said famously. He went on to publish his work in Life, Town & Country, and Holiday from the 1950s through the 1970s.
“He made it his mission to capture moments of beauty and natural happiness in busy lives,” notes Gavrila, who was drawn to Aarons’ evocative subjects and scenes that were not staged or styled. “I swapped boring and common with more inviting and engaging work,” he says.
In the front waiting area, the photograph on the right depicts a socialite and her son in front of their Grecian temple pool on an ethereal summer day on their oceanfront estate in Palm Beach. In the portrait on the left, three friends drink champagne in their swimsuits outside their hotel in Cannes.
ProMD Health’s central hallway has become a gallery, as has each treatment room. Clients stroll past many works by Aarons, including Poolside Gossip. The setting is the Palm Springs home of business magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann, designed by modernist architect Richard Neutra. Chic women with big hair and bare midriffs lounge as a friend (an actress) hurries towards them with a drink.
Gavrila, who discovered Aarons when browsing through a coffee table book of his photographs, admires this photographer’s technical finesse, his ability to manipulate light to convey a special joy de vivre. In scenes of spontaneous grace, his subjects seem to have no worries or have pushed them aside for a few glorious moments. This aligns with ProMD Health’s mission—to help those who come for treatment to pause and leave the office more confident and to enjoy life. Gavrila may be on to something. Perhaps fine art and photography can indeed be part of a successful treatment. Photographing Hollywood’s jet set for years certainly had a positive effect on Slim Aarons, who survived a bloody war to travel the world and almost obsessively surround himself with beauty, as if it could heal him. It worked for quite a while. He died at the age of 89.
First Image (left):
Slim Aarons, Top Up?, 1958
Swim-suited revelers enjoy a glass of wine at the Carlton Hotel, Cannes.
First Image (right):
Slim Aarons, Nice Pool, 1955
American writer C.Z. Guest and her son Alexander Michael Douglas Dudley Guest in front of their Grecian temple pool on the ocean-front estate, Villa Artemis, Palm Beach.
Slim Aarons, Antigua, West Indies, 1961
American actor Hugh O’Brian hoist the sail of a dinghy.
Slim Aarons, Poolside Gossip, 1970
Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs, California.
ProMD Health, ProMDHealth.com, Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 9, No. 5 2018