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BIRMINGHAM (Feb. 22, 2012) - As construction of the new Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children (BRHFC) nears completion, the 753,000-square-feet Children’s of Alabama expansion has already changed the Birmingham city skyline. Efforts now turn to the finishing and décor of the interior.

In keeping with the goal of providing family-centered care, the priority of the design team is to create a comfortable home away from home during a child’s hospitalization through the selection of paint colors, furnishings, fabrics and other decorative elements. Artwork on display throughout the hospital will play a particularly important role in patient comfort and healing. Art is known to soothe emotions, lessen stress and even evoke feelings of excitement, pleasure and a sense of equilibrium, according to Children’s Director of Family Services Suzanne Reeves.

The art to be showcased throughout the BRHFC will feature works by more than 85 Alabama artists in a variety of media, from a bronze sculpture by Frank Fleming of Birmingham to the batik panels by Gina Castle of Fairhope. All are whimsical and playful such as the acrylic-on-canvas cloud series by Ellen Grigg of Mobile, with subject matter that focuses on the best-loved aspects of childhood. A full list is available at

“We believe it will be one of the largest hospital art collections by Alabama artists in the state,” said Margaret Porter, a longtime member of the Children’s of Alabama Board of Trustees and co-chair of the planning committee of Canvas for Children’s, a special event to support the acquisition of Alabama art for the state’s only hospital dedicated solely to the care of children.

The public will have its only opportunity to view the complete Children’s of Alabama collection during Canvas for Children’s, an exclusive, limited showing on Thursday, March 8, from 6 till 9 p.m. Tickets are $75 each, and may be purchased by calling 205-939-9014 or online at

During this event, guests will have the opportunity to tour three Birmingham art galleries – Portraits, Inc. (2801 6th Ave. S.), Loretta Goodwin Gallery (605 28th Street S.) and Matt Jones Gallery (2830 6th Ave. S.) – to preview the works that have been purchased for Children’s and others that are available for sale. Guests may choose to sponsor a piece designated for the expansion facility, with all proceeds benefitting the art acquisition fund at Children’s of Alabama. They may also participate in the Mystery Art Sale by purchasing an 11- by 14-inch original canvas creation for a set price, and learning the identity of the artist after making the purchase.

“Alabama artists were chosen as a way to reflect the hospital’s gratitude to people across the state who have supported Children’s throughout its 100-year history and have made the expansion project possible,” said Canvas for Children’s co-chair Anne Warren.

The Canvas for Children’s event will also include live entertainment by both the Pineapple Skinners and Carlos Pino, wine and heavy hors d’oeuvres. A highlight will be the opportunity to mingle with local featured artists and learn more about their work.

Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children across the state and throughout the southeastern U.S. since 1911. It is the only hospital in Alabama dedicated solely to the care and treatment of children. Ten of its divisions – pulmonology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, urology, neonatology, cancer, cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology and nephrology—were recently ranked among the best children’s hospital programs in the nation by US News & World Report. Children’s is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet-designated hospital for excellence in nursing care. It is a private, not-for-profit hospital that serves as the primary site of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, research and residency programs. A 750,000-square-feet expansion is currently under construction and will open in June. Last year, patients made more than 634,000 outpatient and nearly 14,000 inpatient visits to Children’s. More information is available at