The Pole of Positivity. The Community Column. The Soul Pole.
Call it what you will, but a support column-turned-artwork is a show-stopping piece with a mission. The column stands inside the newly expanded New Jersey Eye and Ear at 23 West Palisade Ave. in Englewood. Decorating the white column are black graffiti-like designs and words of love, positivity, and inspiration.
It is the handiwork of New Jersey born and bred artist Marco Santini, who was commissioned to create this positive piece of readable artwork by the owners of New Jersey Eye and Ear. They sought out Mr. Santini, not only for his hip, art aesthetic sensibility (think kinder, gentler Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat) for their new space, but most especially for the inspirational messages that are at the heart of Mr. Santini’s art.
“I just loved his message,” said Patty Stegman, whose ophthalmologist husband, Dr. Daniel Stegman is the owner of the practice.
Ms. Stegman first read about Mr. Santini while their new facility was under construction. She reached out to see if he would create art in the space, which includes doctors’ offices, a fashion optical shop, and a plant-based, Salud Café.
“Marco’s message is one of inclusion, connection and relationships,” said Ms. Stegman, a couples and family therapist who, by virtue of her profession, sees the world through the lens of psychology.
“We know words are so powerful,” Ms. Stegman said. “Words can heal. Words can hurt. What we wanted to create here is a climate of health and wellness and to promote positivity.”
Mr. Santini said he has his stock of positive words like “love,” “hope” “dream,” and “brave” that he includes in much of his work. In creating the pole, additional words to help decorate the column were offered.
Ms. Stegman said several words that appear on the pole came from their children.
“They came up with ‘create,’ ‘hope,’ ‘worthy,’ ‘courage,’ ‘humble’ ‘laughter,’ ‘acceptance,’ ‘equality.’ It makes you think,” Ms. Stegman said.
The pole also includes the names of their family members.
“It’s like a word puzzle,” she said.
When Mr. Santini created this pole “a physical and metaphorical pillar of positivity” in Englewood recently, it was, in a sense, a return to his beginnings. The 34-year-old artist now lives in Lower Manhattan, but was born in Englewood Hospital and raised in Cresskill.
Mr. Santini may not have planned a career as an artist. He has shown his work at Art Basel and at solo shows, but words, an integral part of his artwork, were a deep interest of his. He studied linguistic anthropology at Brown University. As for the creativity, that too was rooted in him. His father is an architect; his mother is a choreographer.
“I recently have found that my life’s purpose is to spread love and positivity,” said Mr. Santini, who has more than 14,000 Instagram followers and finds time to mentor high school and college students.
“I feel that in a political climate such as this, positive messages are actually doing pretty well,” he said. “Art is really about storytelling. People relate to stories and positivity.”
Like the column — which offers physical support to the space — the words that decorate its surface such as “love,” “hope” “dream,” “brave” give support to its viewers about what to focus on in life, or at least, while they stop to look upon the work of art and to decipher its messages of inspiration.
Heidi Mae Bratt is the editor of About Our Children.