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Trendsetters: Making Art Work

Companies spend thousands of dollars on getting their brand just right, setting the tone for the business, communicating their message to clients and employees and dreaming up the perfect logo. But many companies are overlooking another way to get their message across – original art.

“Nothing more powerfully communicates a brand, a vision – whatever the company’s goal is – than original art,” says Donna Krueger, owner of DK Gallery in Marietta, “whether it be sculpture, glass, paintings, mixed-media, whether it be a contemporary installation or very traditional.”

Krueger knows what she’s talking about. DK Gallery, on the Marietta Square since 2008, not only represents more than 30 artists – both regionally and nationally known – the gallery also offers a corporate art program that works with business owners to provide just the right original art to represent the business and its vision.

The process starts with a site visit and consultation. “We go to the workplace, the office,” Krueger says. “We really get to know the business, the client, whatever their mission, their values, their vision is.”

This often starts with identifying the feelings a business owner wants people to experience when they walk into the space. For example, a doctor’s office might want soothing, calming art for a waiting room full of nervous people.

The idea, Krueger says of a doctor’s office “would be to relax and comfort and soothe a client. It would mean maybe using a soft abstract with beautiful colors or a floral. It could be figurative work. It might be showing mothers and daughters.”

Clients in other fields may want to set a different tone.

“Donna at DK Gallery has been very helpful and instrumental in picking great pieces of art that represent what we were looking for,” says client Jack Knox, president of R.F. Knox, a metal fabrication company.

“We’ve been around for 102 years, and quite honestly our place looked 102 years old,” Knox says. “About six or seven years ago, we did a pretty major renovation. We scrapped all the things we had on the wall, stuff that wasn’t relevant to our industry – we’re in the construction industry. I wanted things on the wall that represented our state, things that represented actual projects that we have done over the 100+ years.”

R.F. Knox has worked on projects from the Capitol building to the Peachtree Plaza Hotel to the Georgia Dome, Knox says. “And that’s what I wanted to see, stuff that reflected who we are and where we’ve been.”

The company now boasts original paintings of the Atlanta skyline by artists Dirk A. Walker and Steve Penley that include buildings R.F. Knox helped construct, along with paintings of Knox’s alma mater Auburn University and abstract works.

The new collection has had a surprising impact, he says. “I don’t think it’s helped me land any new work, but it is nice to walk into a conference room where there are some nice pieces of art that make people wonder. There’s a story behind each piece, so it’s a real easy way to introduce ourselves and talk about the art.”

Krueger and her team don’t just help business leaders choose the art. The next step is virtual hangings. “We take photographs of their space – the blank walls – then we virtually hang, we put the pieces in to show clients options.”

They also bring pieces in for people to see. “It’s really fun to involve the management committee or maybe there’s an art committee,” she says. “And that gets people so excited to engage and be part of that decision. Then we also provide the service of full installation of the art.”

Next up, an open house to show off the art, which might involve a visit by the artist. “We’ll do an open house evening or an art talk with the artist. And that again is something that’s exciting, and it’s great for employees, it’s great for morale. It’s great for employee satisfaction.”

But art in the workplace does so much more than uplift or soothe. It’s also an important part of what Krueger calls the art ecosystem.

“Companies, when they do use art, they’re supporting the arts. And that in and of itself is a strong value,” she says. “We know that supporting the arts enriches our lives, it enriches employees’ lives, it enriches managements’ lives, it enriches the artists. I call it the art ecosystem, where we all are dependent on each other. Galleries, obviously, are dependent on the artists. We’re dependent on museums to present work. We’re dependent on art collectors to buy the work. And all that enriches our lives and helps communities thrive.”

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