Voice of Denver: Curating an Idea

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Bobby and Martha Weidmann explain how a collection of curated objects can address bigger issues than a single piece of work.
Art is not a concrete idea.
 
Every individual art piece has a wide range of interpretive possibilities, but a collection of art can actually convey more meaning than an individual piece. A single piece of art is to an art collection what a single tree is to a vast forest. There may be a few great trees in the woods but they do not define the ecosystem. 
 
To understand an art collection you must know more than a single piece of work. You must understand how individual pieces speak to each other and what patterns emerge when they produce a larger whole. You must know how each piece contributes to the collection and what the collection conveys about its pieces. This is the role of an art curator who is tasked with collecting art that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. If the curator succeeds, the resulting collection will influence how each individual piece is viewed.
 
The practices of NINE dot ARTS, an art consulting firm that specializes in curating art collections for corporate clients, demonstrate this keen ability to produce meaning through curating. After the needs of their client organizations are defined they build art collections that visually convey their client's message. The message includes far more than just mission statements and company vision. Some of the issues that have been incorporated into the message of a company's art collection are attracting young leaders, re-energizing spaces, encouraging collaboration or retaining guests, clients or visitors.
 
NINE dot ARTS is an art consulting firm that specializes in curating art collections for corporate clients.When Denver-based law firm Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell needed art for their new office, they were uncertain how to navigate certain issues, like re-appropriating their current collection of 286 pieces and acquiring new works that would appeal to a diverse committee. 
 
Rather than addressing these problems directly, NINE dot ARTS looked to the firm's future. What kind of image do they want to portray? Who are they trying to attract with their new space? What is their company culture?
 
This organization ultimately determined that they needed to appeal to two groups -- one being their current stable of excellent, dedicated attorneys and staff, and two being the next generation of their workforce which they determined to be young attorneys from cities across the country. Chairman Michael O'Donnell commented that they want their art collection to be "enjoyable, provocative, fun and interesting." Knowing that this was their ultimate goal, the art committee was able to focus on art selections that addressed the bigger issues: acknowledge the firm's history, connections and success while appealing to a new generation of talent with an energetic and challenging visual display.
 
It is not always easy to predict how people will react to any one particular piece of art, but with thoughtful consideration of how each piece contributes to a larger whole, an art collection can help shape experience and influence perception.
 
You just have to be able to see the forest for the trees.

Martha is Co-Founder of RiNo's NINE dot ARTS, an art consulting firm that specializes in curating art collections that offer visual solutions to a client’s needs. Bobby is the Founder of Denver's Bikalope Tours. As a graduate from CU Denver with degrees in both landscape architecture and urban design, Bobby came to appreciate his adopted hometown from the perspective of a city planner. 

Voice of Denver is a biweekly featured post from Denver's entrepreneurs, experts and raconteurs. Contact us if you'd like to stand on our soapbox.
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