Massive blown-glass installation fills Mary Free Bed atrium

bloom-by-jerry-cataniaGrand Rapids, Mich. – Art plays an important role in the healing process, and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has an ArtPrize entry designed to glow with positive, intense energy.

“Bloom” is the work of Jerry Catania, a Benton Harbor, Mich., artist. The glass and metal three-dimensional piece was created as a permanent installation inside Mary Free Bed’s newly renovated main lobby.

“It is my hope that ‘Bloom’ inspires all who come through the doors of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital to feel a personal sense of renewal,” Catania said.

The nature-inspired piece – four interrelated blown and hot-sculpted glass and metal sculptures – fills the three-story atrium. It includes 350 pieces with a combined weight of more than 1,500 pounds.

Catania created the piece over a period of two years in three studios with the help of five team members, including his wife, Kathy. She coordinated the colors, choosing a palette scientifically identified as being motivating and energizing, Catania said.

“Bloom” is one of the most recent installations of original art at Mary Free Bed. Catania also created other blown-glass pieces installed throughout campus, including in the new 167-bed hospital, part of a $66.4 million expansion and renovation project that makes Mary Free Bed the fifth-largest freestanding rehabilitation hospital in the country.

Visitors are invited to meet Catania and view “Bloom” during a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21 in the lobby of the main entrance at 235 Wealthy St. SE. Refreshments will be served.

Mary Free Bed is one of 170 venues hosting 1,453 entries in ArtPrize 8, the international art competition that attracts hundreds of thousands of people to Grand Rapids. The annual event runs Sept. 21-Oct. 9.

Viewing hours are 5-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and noon-6 p.m. Sunday for the duration of ArtPrize. Free parking is available in the adjacent lot and parking structure.

Additionally, Mary Free Bed and Airway Oxygen Inc. once again are partnering with ArtPrize for its Free Wheelchair Loan Program. Wheelchairs will be available in the ArtPrize HUB/HQ and Oasis Lounge. The wheelchairs will be available to loan for a few hours or the entire day for no fee. Visitors will need to provide an ID and credit card information when checking out the wheelchair, all of which will be returned upon checking back in. Wheelchairs should be returned a half-hour before the ArtPrize HUB/HQ and Oasis Lounge close.

Mary Free Bed is a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, rehabilitation hospital. For 125 years, Mary Free Bed has restored hope and freedom through rehabilitation for children and adults who have experienced brain injuries, strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple traumas, amputations, cancer and other diagnoses. The combination of comprehensive services and an exclusive focus on rehabilitation enables specialty physicians and staff to help patients achieve outstanding clinical results. For additional information, visit

Artist’s bio
Jerry Catania has worked professionally for 45 years as an artist and art educator. He began working in glass in 1972 as a part of renowned artist Dale Chihuly’s glassblowing summer workshop, which evolved into Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Wash. He returned to southwest Michigan and opened Fiasco Glass, his first private glass studio. In 1985, he was invited to add a glassblowing studio to the summer art program at Ox-Bow School of Painting in Saugatuck, which now houses off-campus programs of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1990, he moved his private studio to Glenn, where he worked and taught until 2004, when the studio relocated to Benton Harbor and become Water Street Glassworks, a not-for-profit school of glass and metal art.

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