About 10 years after surgeons at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital performed heart surgery on her, a thrilled Jordanna Podesta returned Friday with her family to the vibrant blue and green painted hallways of the Hollywood institution.
This time, the 26-year-old was in the building to see her father — Jozza, an internationally known graffiti pop artist she’s watched paint since childhood — announce a new partnership that will bring his art to the hospital that cared for her.
“I think it’s coming full circle,” Podesta said. “This hospital means a lot to us as a family.”
The children’s hospital officially announced Friday the new partnership with Jozza, a Brazilian painter known for bright and abstract art influenced by Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana and other pop artists. Jozza said he donated two oversized pieces of art, each valued from about $8,000 to $15,000, to hang inside the hospital for its Art Therapy Program for patients and families.
But the pop artist won’t stop at two pieces. He and other artists intend to donate more pieces to the hospital, which is setting up a website to auction the art. About 10 to 15 Jozza pieces will be available all the time after the auction is set up, he said during the presentation.
All the money, the artist said, will go to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation in support of the Art Therapy program and the “Catch the Love” capital campaign. The campaign plans to raise about $56 million to pay for an ongoing expansion and advancement at the hospital.
Jozza, a co-chair on the hospital’s art committee, will guest instruct workshops at the hospital. On Friday, his art already adorned its walls.
“I think it’s coming from the heart,” he said. “I feel very proud to be participating in this.”
A personal connection
According to JDCH Art Committee co-Chairs Kip Hunter-Epstein and Joey Epstein — both longtime Jozza fans and art collectors — the partnership between the artist and hospital was born after the couple reached out to the artist to gauge his interest.
After touring the hospital, Jozza, who has a studio in Hollywood, agreed to help the art committee with custom art and mentioned that his daughter, Podesta, was treated there in 2010.
On Friday, Podesta said the hospital had also helped her 10-month-old son with developmental issues with his vision. And accompanying Jozza during his visit to the hospital Friday was his 3-year-old granddaughter, Olivia, who with one hand clutched her grandfather’s fingers and in the other held a stuffed cat toy she named Lola.
Podesta hopes that as children wait for surgery on the fourth floor by “The Daisy,” Jozza’s bright-colored image of a daisy flower named for an award given to nurses, they will feel calmer. Another painting called “Catch The Love” hangs on the first floor in the Sheridan Healthcare Family Resource Center.
“I thought it would be a really great way to have [Olivia] participate and to also have her see that hospitals are a pretty cool thing, you know, it doesn’t have to be such a scary thing,” Podesta said.
‘Love is at the center of everything we do’
Hunter-Epstein said during Friday’s presentation that the art makes the hospital less intimidating for vulnerable children in need of treatment.
As a surprise to hospital CEO Caitlin Stella, Hunter-Epstein and her husband, who arranged Friday’s event, donated another piece they bought by Jozza called “Snoopy and Woodstock.” It hangs by the surgical unit on the second floor.
Donning a black mask with the word “love” and a red heart logo, Stella said the new art can help young patients who are here under stress experience something comforting.
“Love is at the center of everything we do,” she said. “Making sure that children come to the hospital and have a loving and warm and inviting experience that’s not scary.”
Another painting in the hospital, called “My Journey,” was created by the late daughter of Italia Folleco, chairwoman of the hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council and a volunteer on its art committee. Folleco said she loved the contrast between the popping colors of Jozza’s piece and Daniella’s lighter beach scene, which was once the only art piece in the area.
“It brightens up the hallways, it brightens up everyone who walks by. Especially for children, I think this picture is gonna give them an immediate reaction to color [and] life,” she said.
Jozza said the partnership means a lot to his family, and that he believes it’s a great way to give back to the community that the hospital has cared for.
“I think things happen for a reason,” Jozza said, tearing up during the presentation. “This is so big for me. I think anything that involve[s] kids for me, it’s very special. And a 100%, I’ve put my heart into this program.”