The Health Benefits of Living With Art

No matter which Optima community you’re in, you’ll find yourself surrounded by art. Whether it’s Ellison Keomaka’s inspiring paintings found in several of our Arizona properties or the vibrant sculptures created by our CEO and Founder David Hovey Sr., FAIA, each piece of art in our communities brings with it not only a story — but a wide range of health benefits, too. Here are just a few of the benefits of living with art: 

Keeps Your Mind Active

Similar to the feelings you get when you interact with a loved one, viewing art increases blood flow to the brain, kickstarting a wave of pleasure and positive memory-building while allowing the viewer to practice their cognitive skills. Whether looking at a landscape, portrait or an abstract work, because art is truly subjective, it allows the brain to explore different areas we may not use in daily life. This free-thinking stimulates the mind and strengthens it similar to the way learning a new language does. 

Reduces Stress Levels

Art therapy is regularly used as a natural way to reduce anxiety and other mental disorders in everyone from children to older adults, and even if creating art isn’t your cup of tea, living with art provides the same benefits. Viewing art can calm the brain through the most trying circumstances by allowing it to focus on a singular thing. Worries and stressors are minimized as your mind directs its attention to the relaxing and often inspiring art pieces around you.

Encourages us to Emotionally Heal

Because artists use their work as a way to give shape to their ideas and emotions, living with art encourages us to explore our emotions and past experiences. By viewing art, it’s common to feel transformed and to be taken to places beyond our reality. This metamorphic experience improves well-being and, depending on the person, can be sensorially, emotionally and even spiritually mending. 

Whether you need an inspiring escape, want to relive positive memories or simply crave a masterpiece of your own, the health benefits behind living with art are boundless and accessible by everyone.

The Work of Mark Rothko

It’s no secret that at Optima we love bold colors and clean, Modernist lines. That’s why we’re so drawn to the work of artist Mark Rothko, an American painter known for his rigorous use of colors, shape and form. Today, we’re taking a deep dive into the preeminent artist’s life and work.

Mark Rothko in Yorktown Heights circa 1949. Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum, photo by Consuelo Kanaga.
Mark Rothko in Yorktown Heights circa 1949. Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum, photo by Consuelo Kanaga

The Life of Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko was born September 25, 1903 in Latvia (then in the Russian empire) to a pharmacist father. His father was an intellectual of modest means, raising a Jewish family in a time and place where it was highly taboo to hold such an identity. Rothko attended cheder, a traditional Judaic elementary school, until his father made the decision to emigrate from Russia, for fear that his sons would be drafted into the army. 

In 1913, Rothko landed in Portland, Oregon in the states, where he went on to attend U.S. school and became an active member of the local Jewish community. Taking after his father, Rothko had a strong voice and point of view on many issues. When he landed a scholarship to Yale University in 1922, Rothko started a satirical magazine that lampooned a school he believed to be flawed — and it was unsurprising when Rothko dropped out just a year later.

Out on his own, Rothko found his way to the art world.

The Work of Mark Rothko

In 1923, Rothko began working in New York City’s garment district and enrolled at Parsons School of Design and started taking classes at the Art Students League. He was taught by Cubist artist Max Weber, and influenced by other artists such as the surrealist Paul Klee. As Rothko continued to surround himself with artists and began exhibiting at galleries, his work was becoming recognized as a force of its own, set apart by his unique understanding of color.

While Rothko continued to rise to critical acclaim, it wasn’t until 1949 when he painted his first “multiform” and discovered his most signature style. Marked by bold geometric forms and striking primary and secondary colors, he became more and more particular about his works. Almost always painted in vertical frames, Rothko even went so far as to suggest viewers should stand exactly 18 inches from his work for optimal consumption. He believed color was “merely an instrument” and that his paintings expressed human emotions such as “tragedy, ecstasy and doom” and should henceforth move the viewer to tears. 

Rothko continued expressing his strong point of view until his untimely death at age 66 in 1970, when he committed suicide. While his story had a tragic end, his legacy lives on, marking him as a true master of new American art.

The Work of Joan Miró

It’s no secret that we love color. We believe that color, like art, brings a new dimension to the beautiful spaces that we design. That’s why the colorful and surrealist work of the Spanish painter, Joan Miró, is a natural fit to enliven the walls of our communities.

Portrait of Joan Miró
Portrait of Joan Miró

The Life of Joan Miró

Miró was born in 1893 in the seaside town of Barcelona. He grew up influenced by the beauty and culture of his city, and surrounded by the arts with a watchmaker father and goldsmith mother. His began drawing as a young child, though he diverted from his true calling when he went to business school for college. After school, Miró worked as a clerk, but quickly found his way back to art, evolving through several styles and artists’ circles and leaving an influential mark in his wake. 

The Art of Joan Miró

Miró’s early work was inspired by Vincent van Goh and Paul Cezanne. By 1919 and his first trip to Paris, Miró began to dabble in geometric, patterned art inspired by the Cubists. In the early 1920s, Miró began to draw inspiration from Sigmund Freud and the Marxists, joining the ranks of the groundbreaking surrealists with work marked by lines, organic shapes and color. Miró himself once said, “I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.”

The Red Sun, 1950, Joan Miró at Optima Sonoran Village
The Red Sun, 1950, Joan Miró at Optima Sonoran Village

We are proud to enliven our interior spaces with the art of Joan Miró, and are deeply moved by the power of his works and words. Miró’s work adorns the walls of a handful of units at Optima Sonoran Village, playing off the lively interiors and lush outside landscape. Like Miró, we too, try to apply colors, and art, to shape the beautiful spaces that we design.

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