McClellan’s original oil painting depicts cottonwood trees along the Jefferson River. She used a picture she had taken while floating the Jefferson to recreate the painting. PHOTO COURTESY OF ELIZABETH MCCAMBRIDGE

It takes you away

Local artwork at Ruby Valley Medical Center

Local artists have donated original works to the Ruby Valley Medical Center (RVMC). Pieces that met selection criteria and artwork guidelines were chosen by the RVMC Art Committee.

Landon Dybdal, chief executive officer of RVMC, knowing the positive impact that art can have on patients and employees, reached out to Kelly Livingston, owner of 1111 Design Studio in Bozeman, with the goal of integrating art that highlighted community artists and the lifestyle of the Ruby Valley. Advertising for local artwork donations began early this year.

“It’s kind of a total work in progress,” Livingston said, especially considering the delays brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Livingston’s studio is interior design-focused, and she was hired to help place the art throughout the hospital. She also was involved in contacting local artists who may be interested in submitting.

One artist Livingston reached out to was Jennifer McClellan, Sheridan artist. McClellan gave Livingston contact information for other art organizations in the area, including the Ennis Arts Association (EAA), of which both McClellan and her husband are members. Ann Goldthwait, owner of Kindred Spirits in Sheridan, also was instrumental in encouraging donations.

“Typically, when you’re in a clinical hospital situation, you’re not necessarily in the best frame of mind, so it’s uplifting,” McClellan said about seeing art in these settings.

By March, news of RVMC’s request for donations had passed through the Madison County artistic grapevine and ended up on Elizabeth McCambridge’s radar. McCambridge is the volunteer communications coordinator with the EAA and she sent the invitation to other EAA members. Seven individuals’ paintings were selected and now hang at RVMC.

“It seems to me all artists are really generous with their art,” McCambridge said. Her husband, Carleton, had first-hand experience of the impact art can have in hospital settings while working as an equipment technician for over three decades at a university hospital in Minnesota.

“It helped him through the day because it’s a stressful job to work in a hospital,” Elizabeth said.

“Art is food for the soul and it certainly has been for my soul,” Carleton, a life-long art lover, said.

Studies have shown that displaying art in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes improves a patient’s experience. One study done by Art Works, a Penn State School of Visual Arts program, found that paintings helped improve patients’ perception of the setting—white walls and charts felt institutional but adding paintings made the environment more comfortable.

A study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2017 found that, “art contributes to creating an environment where patients can feel safe, socialize, maintain a connection to the world outside the hospital and support their identity.”

While working in the university hospital, Carleton found the positive impact of seeing art in the building extended beyond just the patients. “There was a healing atmosphere. Employees and visitors and patients would notice it immediately,” he said.

McClellan worked as an EEG technician for seven years in southern California. “I think it’s very beneficial for the hospital, and the people who work there, and the patients,” she said.

Elizabeth laughed as she mentioned many of the EAA members have been patients at the Madison Valley Medical Center (MVMC) a few times. “When we go to the clinic here, we look at the art!” she said, mentioning there is not much else to do while lingering in either the waiting room or doctor’s office.

MVMC has art on the walls and some permanent installations, Elizabeth said. She felt certain EAA members would be happy to donate pieces to MVMC or nursing homes around the area if they were requested.

RVMC is still accepting donations for artwork and plans to recognize all donors in a ‘very big way’ as soon as the project is complete, Debra McNeill, communications consultant with RVMC, said. The project is a combination of many works that includes various media. Those looking to submit may contact Livingston at

“What’s in there [RVMC] is so nice. It’s just lovely. It was really a treat to walk around a couple of weeks ago to see what was going on,” McNeill said in response to the artwork now displayed on the walls.

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