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The Healing Power of Art

By Gary Wien

originally published: 08/25/2018

The Healing Power of Art

Entering the office to see a neurologist can be a terrifying experience.  I know because I’ve had to do it for years.  Thankfully, when I see my doctor I am surrounded by his photographs on the walls. It’s more than a hobby for Dr. Noah Gilson, it’s a lifelong passion.

Dr. Gilson attended Loyola University School of Medicine in Chicago and did his neurology residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. He has been in practice with Neurology Specialists of Monmouth County since 1986.  He believes his photographs play an important role in making a connection with patients.

“It sort of breaks the barrier between myself and my patients,” said Dr. Gilson.  “It’s something that is neutral. Neurological conditions can be pretty nerve-wracking.  When the first thing you talk about is photography or art - anything other than why they are there - it breaks the ice and it creates a more mutual environment.  And, I think, more of a healing environment.”

“I’m very into creating healing spaces,” he continued.  “I want my office to be a healing space - where a person can relax and think of things that are not stress inducing like their disease or illness.  Just something to remind them how nice life is visually through these images.  It’s the same thing for my photographs in the hospitals too.”

In addition to his practice, Gilson’s photography work can be seen throughout Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch and Riverview Hospital in Red Bank.  “It’s had a very unexpected effect.  I never planned for any of this, but I’ve had a lot of feedback from families in the hospital who said that when their loved one would walk the halls with their IV pole, they’d be looking at some of my pictures.  And, for a few minutes, they forget why they were in the hospital.  People have told me that some of the last images their mother or father or brother or sister saw were my images.  It’s nice that I could have brought a little peace into the final days of their lives.”



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Photography became an interest of his when he was about 12 or 13 years old.  At the time, his father put a dark room in the basement of their house in Chicago. He took a photography class in high school and won several prizes. He even thought about pursuing it professionally while attending college, before deciding to go pre-med instead.  He put photography on hold for many years.

It wasn’t until he moved to New Jersey in 1986 when his interest was reborn.  His parents had recently moved and found some of his old photographs.  He had just moved into a new house and decided to put in a dark room and take up the hobby again.  Gilson purchased some used equipment and began creating black and white images.  From there he moved into color photography and was completely hooked again.

In 1989, he began putting up some of his photos in his office.  As people in the practice noticed them, he was asked to put up some in the hallways throughout the office space.  After seeing a display at Monmouth Medical by a fellow doctor, Gilson asked if he could display some of his work there as well.  Pretty soon his work could be found on several floors. 

The Healing Power of Art“I don’t do it commercially,” said Dr. Gilson.  “I’m in a couple of shows and I’ve sold some of my works, but that’s not my intention.  An artist likes to have an audience and this is my audience - people who come by and look at it and get a little comfort by thinking about things in a different way.  That makes me feel good.”

Many of his photographs on display have been taken around the world.  He says his favorite place to shoot is Sedona in Arizona or just about anywhere in the southwest.  Two years ago, he spent a week out there for his 60th birthday and did nothing but hike and shoot pictures.  He estimates he shot about 1,000 pictures that week.

He would not have been able to shoot so much without the use of digital cameras, and he was an early adopter of digital.  After getting rid of his dark room, he began working with PhotoShop in the 90s.  At the time digital cameras were still pretty poor quality, so he would digitally scan all of his images and see what he could do with them.

“Very quickly I stopped using the dark room - like overnight!” he recalled.  “I said this doesn’t make any sense.  I can create these beautiful images and do all of these things you can’t do in the dark room.  It’s not about the camera, it’s about visualization, composition, lighting; it’s about seeing images that you want to capture.”

Even though he has been working with digital photographs for decades, he’s not an Internet guy and doesn’t have a website.  He thinks about putting photos together for a book, but doesn’t know how to decide which photos to use.  For the time being, his photos will remain viewed by those seeing them due to a medical condition and he’s fine with that.  In fact, he thinks photography and medicine have a close connection.

“I’ve thought about this a lot,” said Dr. Gilson. “Photography is complimentary because what do I do as a neurologist? It’s pattern recognition.  I’ve been doing this a very long time and when a patient comes in sometimes I hear the information, but it’s just the way that they do it.  I get the feeling and I’m seeing the whole picture.  It’s almost like I’m taking a snapshot and I get a sense of what’s wrong with a patient.  It’s kind of what a picture is.  You see it, you know that moment that it’s when you’ve got to shoot.  So, there’s a lot of similarity.  You build things up and you sort of build around that impression.  That’s what a photograph is.  You get that shot and then you perfect it - you put it into Lightroom or PhotoShop and you sort of tune it and tweak it to make it as perfect as you visualized at that moment.  It’s kind of the way neurology is.  You sort of think this is what it is, but then you’ve got to get the information, find time to get the data, examine the patient carefully, tune it up, and make the impression more solid.  I think there is a lot of similarity. Photography is much more than a hobby for me, it’s my passion.”







For more by this author, click here



Rider University Art Gallery presents Mel Leipzig: Octogenarian
(LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ) -- The Rider University Art Gallery will present an exhibit of works by Mel Leipzig, titled Mel Leipzig: Octogenarian Wednesday September 26 through Friday, October 26.  Leipzig, born in Brooklyn in 1935, resides in Trenton, NJ.
Monroe Township Presents Artrageous
(MONROE TOWNSHIP, NJ) -- The Monroe Township High School Performing Arts Center presents Artrageous on Sunday, November 11th at 4:00pm. Artrageous is a unique interactive arts performance that incorporates many different art forms on the same stage. The audience experiences live speed painting art, music, dance, and life-sized puppetry.  
"Trumpets, Weird and Wonderful" opens at the Morris Museum October 7
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The Morris Museum in partnership with the National Music Museum (Vermillion, South Dakota) presents the exhibit Trumpets, Weird and Wonderful: Treasures from the National Music Museum — 44 fascinating instruments from five continents, on view at the Morris Museum from October 7 to March 17, 2019. Dating from the late 17th to the late 20th centuries, the instruments are on loan from the National Music Museum’s Joe R. and Joella F. Utley Collection of Brass Instruments, and most of them have never been on public exhibit.
JCTC's Connection Series Explores How We Do & Don’t Connect in Today’s World
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GlassRoots Honors The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey & Laureen Meehan at Annual Gala
​(NEWARK, NJ) -- GlassRoots announced that its annual Gala and Auction, this year entitled Glowing + Growing will be held on October 18, 2018, and will celebrate the nonprofit's 17 years of impact by paying tribute to the deep connections among organizations invested in arts education by honoring Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and Lauren Meehan of the Newark Arts Education Roundtable.


Basking Ridge Resident Returns to Matheny to Help Assist in Strategic Planning for 'This Amazing Place'
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City Without Walls and Aljira To Shine At Newark Arts Festival
Two long-running art spaces, City Without Walls (“cWOW”) and Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art (“Aljira”), will house pop-up exhibits during the Newark Arts Festival, October 4-7, 2018.  Though both spaces are now in a period of transition, through the support of Newark Arts, they will activate with fresh exhibits during Newark’s citywide annual festival of the arts. 
The Healing Power of Art
Entering the office to see a neurologist can be a terrifying experience.  I know because I’ve had to do it for years.  Thankfully, when I see my doctor I am surrounded by his photographs on the walls. It’s more than a hobby for Dr. Noah Gilson, it’s a lifelong passion.
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Upcoming Events

Rider University Art Gallery presents Mel Leipzig: Octogenarian

Rider University Art Gallery presents Mel Leipzig: Octogenarian

(LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ) -- The Rider University Art Gallery will present an exhibit of works by Mel Leipzig, titled Mel Leipzig: Octogenarian Wednesday September 26 through Friday, October 26.  Leipzig, born in Brooklyn in 1935, resides in Trenton, NJ.


Monroe Township Presents Artrageous

Monroe Township Presents Artrageous

(MONROE TOWNSHIP, NJ) -- The Monroe Township High School Performing Arts Center presents Artrageous on Sunday, November 11th at 4:00pm. Artrageous is a unique interactive arts performance that incorporates many different art forms on the same stage. The audience experiences live speed painting art, music, dance, and life-sized puppetry.  


"Trumpets, Weird and Wonderful" opens at the Morris Museum October 7

"Trumpets, Weird and Wonderful" opens at the Morris Museum October 7

(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The Morris Museum in partnership with the National Music Museum (Vermillion, South Dakota) presents the exhibit Trumpets, Weird and Wonderful: Treasures from the National Music Museum — 44 fascinating instruments from five continents, on view at the Morris Museum from October 7 to March 17, 2019. Dating from the late 17th to the late 20th centuries, the instruments are on loan from the National Music Museum’s Joe R. and Joella F. Utley Collection of Brass Instruments, and most of them have never been on public exhibit.


JCTC's Connection Series Explores How We Do & Don’t Connect in Today’s World

JCTC's Connection Series Explores How We Do & Don’t Connect in Today’s World

(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Technology connects people all over the world, yet why do we so often seem disconnected to our communities, families and each other? Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) launches its 2018/2019 season with Connection, a series of visual arts, theater, dance and readings that explores the truly modern conflict of pervasive isolation in an era of hyper-communication.








Event calendar
Saturday, Sep 22, 2018


MUSIC

Asbury Park Porchfest @ Booskerdoo, Asbury Park - 12:00pm

Carl Chesna & Co. @ Hotel Tides, Asbury Park - 1:00pm

Echoes @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Cole Swindell @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

GRUPO NICHE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

The History of Motown @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Drake Bell @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

Classic Stones Live feat. The Glimmer Twins @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Opera Theatre of Montclair Presents Hansel and Gretel @ Central Presbyterian Church, Montclair - 4:00pm


Oscar D’León with Tony Vega and Los Hermanos Moreno @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

SunDog Band at Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ @ Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ, Paterson - 9:00pm

Celtic Thunder X @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Young Person's Concert @ River Dell Middle School Auditorium, River Edge - 1:00pm


Tigerman record release show for “Descend Into Savagery” @ Debonair Music Hall, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Hubby Jenkins @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Incorruptible @ Ritz Theatre Company, Haddon Township - 8:00pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Theatre Brut Session 2 @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 2:00pm

Evita @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Claire, Anton et Eux" @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College, Princeton - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

HUMAN ERROR by Eric Pfeffinger @ West Windsor Arts Center, Princeton Junction - 8:00pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Assisted Living: The Musical @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 2:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 3:00pm


DANCE

SWAN LAKE - THE ATLANTIC CITY BALLET @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 7:00pm

SOLE Defined @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm


LITERATURE

Monthly Saturday Writing Retreats @ Tiferet Journal, Bernardsville - 9:00am

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