An Exploration on Public Art with Janet Hobby of MKG Art Management

Public art is an integral part of every Trademark property – it’s one of our favorite ways to add soul and character to a space. Our public art investment totals more than 30 works, 15 artists, and even partnerships with major museums. At our properties, you’ll find works in a range of mediums: sculpture, mural, photography, neon, metal works, wood, and more. Our collection is growing constantly.

These artists are sourced by our director of design and innovation, Cassie King, who is an artist in her own right. To source great work from across the world, Cassie also works with art consultants like Janet Hobby of MKG Art Management. Janet has helped add some of the most unique, compelling pieces to our collection and introduced us to some amazingly talented artists, including Tim Bavington and Nathan Mabry.

Cassie recently sat down with Janet to talk about what goes into finding the right art for the right place and the positive relationship between public art and experience.

Cassie: When you are getting to know a new client, where do you start? Where does the process go from there?

Janet: Getting to know new clients is a pleasure. It starts with the abstract, a conversation about vision and goals, then shifts to the concrete; looking at a lot of art to determine the taste preferences of the client. From that point on, art presentations, gallery visits and art fairs continue to refine direction.

Cassie: How does that process differ from client to client or from private to corporate clients?

Janet: The process doesn’t differ wildly between corporate and private art collecting, but the freedoms and budgets of individuals often produce different outcomes. Generally, the fewer decision makers, the more risk taking the art tends to be.

Cassie: What factors go into finding the right piece for the right space?

Janet: Many factors go in to finding the right piece for various spaces. Besides making sure you are in sync with the client’s aesthetic, the scale of a work, the medium used, the light and climate conditions, and the mood desired are some of the factors considered.

Cassie: What role does art play in a public space? Why is it worth the extra time and investment?

Janet: Wow, I could write five pages on this question. There is not enough public art in the world in my opinion. Public art activates not only the space it occupies, but the neighborhood and city in which it exists as well. Think, Chicago, Miami, New York. It is gift to the unknowing passerby, it is an engagement of the imagination, and it expresses a spirit and creativity that changes communities.

Cassie: What are some of the biggest trends in public art right now?

Janet: Today’s public art tends to be less monumental and more cleverly integrated in communities. Social practice, installation artworks, interactive, tech-based artworks, the DIY phenomenon like the yarn bombers and social media. Also trending is the temporary – pop up, short term or disintegrating artworks — disruption but with less risk, less commitment.

Cassie: What are some unique ways in which you are helping your clients incorporate art into a space?

Janet: I have one client who is passionate about wildlife art and we are selectively shaping their ranch house using primarily sculpture, paintings and photos. Another client is enlivening a newly finished office floor with emerging contemporary artworks. And another is creating a glamorous atmosphere at home using modern artists of the 1960s.

Cassie: You are working with Trademark on a number of its developments. How do you think retail developers and retailers can use art to connect with customers?

Janet: Creative, art-infused spaces draw visitors. That’s true whether you are a museum, a public park or a retail development. Trademark is a uniquely humane company. Their corporate ideal of leaving the world better than you found it places a high value on the customer and the artist alike. They care, they invest and their customers win. The community wins.

Cassie: What is the top request you hear from clients?

Janet: The majority of the clients I work with are interested in contemporary artworks by artists in their early to mid-careers. They want to love the work while supporting serious artists on their way up.

Cassie: What is the most unusual and/or challenging request you’ve had?

Janet: Finding works by a particular New Zealand aboriginal artist. It was tricky because of the export limits of historic artworks and artifacts.

Cassie: How do you discover new artists?

Janet: I attend gallery and museum exhibitions, I read many art journals, I follow several MFA programs, and I spend thousands of hours on the internet reading blogs, viewing openings and following favorite curators. Art fairs are also excellent ground for artist discovery.

Cassie: How have you seen the art industry evolve over the course of your career?

Janet: It’s been an explosion more than an evolution. I credit the ubiquity of high speed Internet for the massive growth of the art market. Images and ideas flowing globally in split seconds is a great igniter. What used to be reserved for the rarefied few who visited art galleries in New York, Paris and London is now enjoyed by all. Today we see art in every aspect of our life – on the streets, in airports, in parks and on and on.

Cassie: What do you think the art world will look like in 10 years?

Janet: I’m a believer that the MFA is the new MBA and that our society is going to continue rewarding the creative. In ten years, the art market will have expanded along with the size and depth of sub-genres.

Cassie: What advice would you give to someone considering making an investment in art?

Janet: Do a lot of homework before investing in art. Determine what you really love and what you want to live with. Seek the assistance of an art professional to help you navigate the complexities that are inherent. Don’t purchase anything in haste and only buy the most interesting examples of an artists’ oeuvre. Lesser works always remain lesser works, even if by a big-name artist.

Cassie: Anything else to add?

Janet: Challenge yourself to see art around you, appreciate the unexpected, learn what you like and support the creative community where possible. Art allows us to see life from different perspectives; it opens our minds and enriches our lives.

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Liana Moran
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