Renee Askew posing with her art at the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center.
Askew’s colorful art hanging on the walls of the medical center.
Askew’s paintings hanging on the walls of the medical center.
Askew’s paintings in the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center.
Askew in front of her work at the gallery.

Renee Askew posing with her art at the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center.
Askew’s colorful art hanging on the walls of the medical center.
Askew’s paintings hanging on the walls of the medical center.
Askew’s paintings in the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center.
Askew in front of her work at the gallery.
BOONE — An art gallery at the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center uplifts residents, with colorful paintings created by local artist Reneé Askew.
Brightly colored paintings line the walls of the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center as the the facility receives curated art quarterly from the Watauga County Arts Council. The art is changed every quarter to give new scenery to long-term patients, and alleviate the monotony of medical center walls.
“People with an uplifted state of mind go through oncology treatments easier,” Kenneth Neuvirth, senior director of oncology at the center, said.
The center has a final say on the art displayed as the objective is for the art to uplift the spirits of the patients at the center. Neuvirth said the art in the building creates a peaceful environment.
This is an opportunity for local artists to share their work in a gallery space while making a difference, and that impact is not lost on Neuvirth. Neuvirth married a full-time local artist, and understands the importance of the arts in the community.
Debbie Shook, director of clinical services for six years at the center, also finds value in the gallery for both the patients and the artists. Shook said that the gallery is a vehicle that local artists can use to gain exposure.
“I love all forms of art. It has meaning, and everyones interpretation is different,” Shook said.
Local artist Renee Askew began working with the Watauga County Arts Council during a Valentine’s Day event. Some time later, Askew was contacted with a list of places she might want to display her work with one of the options being the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center.
“I just feel like the arts is very healing and joy giving, “ Askew said. “I have shown my work in a lot of different places, but I just love the idea of brightening up the space where somebody might be struggling.”
Askew has used her art as a therapy for others for years. She has worked as a resident artist in children homes, safe houses, and in multiple countries.
“I guess intense is the best word, but its also the freedom of seeing them coming out of what they were in and coming into a new way of life,” Askew said.
Askew hopes to someday do similar work with the patients at the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center, but for now she is delighted to have her work bring an impact to patients through the gallery.
Askew’s muse for the paintings she created for the cancer center were those in her life that she knew with cancer. Askew doesn’t paint portraits, but the paintings were created to honor and remember their journey. The paintings are bright colored clouds in the style of abstract expressionism. Askew is currently illustrating a children’s picture book.
According to Amber Bateman, the executive director of the Watauga County Arts Council, the artist for next quarter is chosen. He is an artist whose wife received treatment at the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center and strives to give back to the medical facility.
For more information on the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center, visit apprhs.org/cancercenter/
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