Anyone who has been inside an office, hospital, or hotel has likely noticed artwork on the premises without sparing any consideration to how it got there. Art Solutions, a company owned and operated by art consultant Debbi Schonberger-Pierce who has been working in this specific branch of the art industry since 1995, is an organization that is dedicated to placing artwork in just such locations.

Art Solutions proudly bills itself as a “full-service art consulting firm” that readily collaborates with designers, architects, and facility managers to pair unique original art to specific spaces.

Most of the work they do with clients is when the firms are actively renovating, relocating, or expanding to additional offices but others—Northwell Hospital or the Federal Reserve Bank—are more constant presences.

Among the services Art Solutions provides are the development of art programs, the selection and acquisition of art, planning of art placement, researching art-related interests for clients, framing art, managing budgets, installing collections, appraising existing collections for insurance or de-accession purposes, renting art, restoring art, appraising art, managing art inventory, or storing art in a safe and climate-controlled facility.

Corporate art and healthcare art

Founder Debbi Schonberger-Pierce earned a Master’s degree in Art Education from New York University in the early 1990s and managed to secure a position as a preschool teacher before stumbling upon the corporate art industry in the most unusual way: she had a conversation with her father.

“Back in the early-1990s the economy was bad, and I was having trouble finding teaching jobs,” Debbi explained in a recent exclusive interview. “My father knew this and, one day mentioned that he had seen a lady deliver artwork to his office. He found out that she placed artwork in offices, hospitals, and other corporate settings professionally, and introduced me to her.

I ended up working for her until 2005 when I decided to start my own company.”

Granted, the establishment of Art Solutions was not an easy task. As an artist herself, it was difficult for Debbi to train herself to think like a business person and make decisions like one. Luckily, her past work experience had taught her many tips and tactics and helped keep her afloat during the initial stages.

Likewise, many of her clients from her previous job followed her when she started up Art Solutions.

Then, the recession of 2008 hit. It was a difficult time for Debbi’s business and she was forced to re-train herself to offer services besides selling art (which few companies could afford, especially between 2008 and 2011) including renting art, reframing artworks already in a corporate collection, or helping to relocate artwork to new locations as companies downsized during the tough times. As the economy sluggishly improves, Debbi has started selling art again more steadily, and she has noticed some very distinctive trends in the current industry.

“Many companies want art that includes found objects, or what can be termed as reused, recycled, or re-purposed materials,” she explained.

“The environment has become a big point of concern for many people--including those at the helm of many organizations--, and companies want to show off art that can be regarded as eco-friendly. This is especially important for companies that are considered ‘LEED Certified.’ Overall, though, I tend to select art for buildings largely depending on what piece works for which space.”

Healthcare Art,” a term generally used to describe artwork which is placed in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities have even more trends…or even what some might regard as rigidly established preferences. For instance, hospitals tend to avoid any photos that have a blurry component since they might make the medicated patient feel dizzy due to the side effects of certain medications.

Healthcare Art often tends to shy away from fall colors since they might remind people of death and/or endings, and the color red which could bring the thought of blood to mind.

“Nature, especially nature photography, is typically the best kind of artwork to place in hospitals,” Debbi explained. “Flowers, trees, landscapes, or anything conveying the thought of fresh air is certainly desirable. Sometimes abstracts work, but for the most part serene and cheerful nature scenes work best for those settings.”

Experiences, opportunities, and projects

Of all the wonderful experiences that Debbi’s profession has provided her with, an especially poignant memory was working on a commission for the Port Authority on a series of artistic photographs.

“I had the opportunity to go to many scarcely-known locations within the Port Authority to decipher which locations would be the best place to capture some urban landscape photos,” Debbi recalled. “The man who commissioned this project was very ill with cancer at the time, and this project turned out to be the last one he worked on before he passed away. I didn’t even know he was sick! I later found out that everyone at the Port Authority was very grateful to me for working on the commission with him since the final results made him very happy. So, they were kind enough to grant me two months to exhibit artwork in the Port Authority!”

Debbi certainly made the most of the Port Authority's generous gesture.

She went to her children’s NYC public school and got the officials to agree to allow a well-known muralist paint the cafeteria. The muralist then encouraged all the schoolchildren to create artwork inspired by his creation. The children’s artwork was subsequently collected and exhibited in the Port Authority space. This non-profit endeavor was so extremely successful and popular that the NY1 news channel even covered it.

Today, Debbi regularly attends many art fairs and galleries in search of talented new artists to keep on her radar. In April 2018, she attended New York City’s ArtExpo where she spoke on a panel hosted by photographer Michael Joseph of ArtBlend Gallery. In the near future, she hopes to delve more into creating community-focused art projects and programs that get large numbers of people interested in, and engaged with, the art in their communities.

“I’m always looking for new opportunities, projects, and programs,” Debbi declared. “Anyone who is interested in what we do should Google ‘Art Solutions’ and take a look at our official website.”