Walk into the Bank of America Financial Center in Huntington Beach’s Seacliff Village Shopping Center and you’ll see a variety of artworks hanging on the walls.
The paintings are as interesting and diverse as the stories of the people who created them.
Eric Santamaria, who lives in Los Angeles, has cerebral palsy and works in a wheelchair. He mounts markers, paintbrushes and pens under his wheelchair and puts a canvas underneath. San Jose-based artist Tim Strauss has treated left-sided partial paralysis, and Denver-based Elizabeth Gauss has treated loneliness and trauma.
These are just a few of the artists across the country supported by a two-year partnership between Bank of America and a public benefit corporation called ArtLifting.
Bank of America has purchased more than 11,000 works of art from ArtLifting artists and installed them in 1,500 financial centers nationwide, said Christina Bailey, ArtLifting’s chief growth officer. ArtLifting benefits artists with disabilities and those affected by housing insecurity.
“It had a huge financial and emotional impact on our artist community,” Bailey said.
The Financial Center of Huntington Beach is one of seven in Orange County currently exhibiting ArtLifting’s work. There are three of him in Anaheim, plus one each in Fullerton, La Habra, and Yorba Linda.
In total, Bailey said, artists have earned more than $4 million through ArtLifting over the past few years. This program started in his 2013. That’s when CEO and co-founder Liz Powers started her art his group at a local shelter to help homeless people in the Boston area.
“She saw incredible talent, but the artwork was kept in basements and closets. Or maybe the artist was trying to sell it on the street,” Bailey said. “She thought that if we could see the talent of these artists and hear them speak, we could make money from the work we were already doing. The work already existed and we needed a platform to express it.”
When an ArtLifting partner like Bank of America purchases a print, the artist receives 55% of the profits and 1% of the sale goes to art groups nationwide. The remaining 44% of him will be sent to ArtLifting to further its mission.
Patrons of Bank of America can also enjoy the artwork and visit ArtLifting’s website to purchase prints and support the cause.
Santa Maria, with two pieces hanging on location in Huntington Beach, is non-verbal. But his mother Gail says she wants to get a new bed, tools to move him on his feet and take him to Universal Studios, Bailey said.
Rebekah Sigfrids, senior vice president of financial center design and innovation at Bank of America, said the partnership with ArtLifting has worked well as the company seeks to refurbish many of its branches. This year, BofA’s design team has selected 27 of his works from his 21 artists.
“I lived in New York, and the first branch here had all the artwork,” says Sigfrids. “Our security guards were just walking around and reading every plaque…the client enjoys looking at the work. [bank employees] do the same. It’s great to have beautiful work that has meaning. It’s a great partnership. “
ArtLifting has about 400 enterprise customers, but Bailey says its partnership with Bank of America is one of its largest to date.
We help artists with multiple sclerosis, cancer, autism, mental illness, chronic pain, and more to earn money for their efforts.
“The originality of the artwork is unparalleled, as the artists’ diverse lived experiences influence their work,” Bailey said. “But they are also often very innovative and adaptable.
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