There are plenty
of companies that care enough about art to buy some for their office
walls and lobbies. But few establish relationships with the artists
themselves. Not so of Mullen/Long Haymes Carr, an advertising agency
based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Not only did the agency
commission an installation for the firm's corporate offices, but it
also offered the artist, Stephen Hendee, a highly trafficked
conference room -- one that is often used by the company's creative
team -- as the installation site.
Hendee, a Newark, New Jersey-based artist whose work has been
exhibited at P.S. 1, New York's celebrated alternative museum, as
well as in solo and group gallery shows, creates evocative spaces
with simple materials -- pieces of backlit foamboard fused with
black tape. For Mullen/LHC, he transformed one of the agency's most
sterile rooms into a low-lit, cavelike den of inspiration.
"The colors I use to gel the lights are highly saturated," says
Hendee, 33. "They stimulate the mind yet calm the body. And the
geometric lines are also very stimulating. In low light, they create
after-images, just like stained glass. It puts people in a different
frame of mind than what they're used to, like being in a cavern or a
"The people at Mullen/LHC are just inundated with commercial
messages everywhere they turn," Hendee adds. "This room is totally
devoid of that."
Stephen Zades, former CEO of LHC ( before its merger with Mullen
in January ) and founder of the Odyssey Group, a creative consulting
firm, thinks of the environment as a place where people can dream.
"So many of the spaces we work and live in have become lifeless and
boring," he says. "But the moment you enter this space, it produces
a change both in mind and body. That's exactly the frame of mind
needed for brainstorming and creative problem solving. It's one of
the many lessons that contemporary art brings to the business
Bonnie Schwartz ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) is a
freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York.