The art whisperer

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

BY JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG

0613 FOB Art 01
Janelle Baglien in front of "The White Album," a painting by William Park installed at the Hotel Modera in Portland
// Photo by Adam Wickham

Janelle Baglien doesn’t simply let art hang on the wall and look pretty. She puts art to work. The founder and president of Studio Art Direct, a Portland-based corporate art firm, Baglien consults for developers and interior designers on incorporating works of art into new and remodeled projects. She is driven by the belief that art in the built environment should do more than beautify a space — it should serve the purpose of the business occupying that space.

“You create a story, a theme, through art and you match that with the goals of a business,” says Baglien, 51. “If you’re a financial institution, you’ve got people that are going to be writing you checks. They want to know who you are and what you believe in, and I think art is one way to reflect that.”

The Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center, Baglien’s largest project to date, is a case in point. The 480,000-square-foot Hillsboro facility, slated to open in August, features more than 900 works of art, from a monumental glass-and-steel sculpture of a ginkgo plant in the entry rotunda to reproductions of paintings in the exam rooms. Every last piece, Baglien claims, will serve Kaiser’s purpose: healing. She points to research in a field called “evidence-based design” showing certain types of art have positive health impacts, such as lowering blood pressure.

Depictions of nature are good (almost all the artwork at the Kaiser facility portrays the natural world). Abstract art is bad. Red is a big no-no, Baglien cautions. “Freaks people out.”

A hobby artist and fourth-generation Oregonian, Baglien worked in environmental graphic design — the design of facility signage and wayfinding elements — and marketing for 25 years before launching Studio Art Direct in 2005. “People thought I was a little bit nuts,” she says. “But working in the built environment, you understand that as much square footage as there is being built, you have almost four times that of wall space.”

Other corporate art firms offered artwork off the rack, Baglien says. She saw a market niche for an art consultant that would get involved in the construction process early to help developers integrate art into projects in a more intentional way, thus avoiding what she calls “plunk” art. “Buildings would get all done and people would go, ‘Oh, we gotta plunk something up there.’”

Eight years later, Studio Art Direct is still relatively small, with only one employee besides Baglien and a modest $711,000 in gross sales for 2012. But since 2009, even as the recession has leveled the building trades, the firm’s receipts have climbed a staggering 460%. Baglien attributes her business’s unseasonable success to getting out in front of construction trends.

Before the recession, hospitality projects such as Portland’s Hotel Modera were her bread and butter; these days, health care projects like Kaiser Westside are the economic drivers. “You talk to any architect or interior designer, that’s where the bulk of the business is right now in the built environment,” Baglien says, naming government and multifamily as other promising sectors.

What’s good for Baglien can only be good for Northwest artists. She buys or commissions all her artwork regionally from such area artists as outdoor-sports photographer Lance Koudele, landscape painter Marla Baggetta and sculptor Rip Caswell. “I’m extraordinarily passionate about that,” she says. “You wouldn’t believe the artists that are here in Portland.”

Baglien sees Studio Art Direct as a “bridge between the business community and regional arts,” connecting artists with a lucrative market of developers and designers. “Probably nobody [locally has] sold as much art as we have during this recession,” she says. “I think when you make art really accessible to the business community, they’re more than willing to support it.”

 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 General Manager, Rip Caswell SculpturesGuest 2013-05-29 22:27:45
Janelle is a class act; she has both the art knowledge and the business savvy to pull off the big installation jobs while she stays on top of timelines and keeping projects running smoothly - she IS the Art Whisperer! Love it.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #2 Artist and DesignerGuest 2013-06-01 16:22:26
You find her kind of talent in the Bay Area or back in New York. She's a real asset to our NW community and she knows her market well. A pleasure to work with. Always look forward to doing more projects with her.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #3 Kaiser WestsideGuest 2013-06-25 03:12:00
Was at the hospital tonight & that ginkgo piece in the lobby really is outstanding. What I've seen is pretty nice; I would have liked to see more iconic NW artists -- and what's this with abstract being a no-no?
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

Store Bought

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Market of Choice is on a tear. In 2012 the 35-year-old Eugene-based grocery chain opened a central kitchen/distribution center in its hometown. The market opened its third Portland store in the Cedar Mill neighborhood this year; another outpost in Bend broke ground in March. A fourth Portland location is slated for the inner southeast “LOCA” development, a mixed-use project featuring condos and retail. Revenues in 2014 were $175 million, a double-digit increase over 2013. CEO Rick Wright discusses growth, market trends and how he keeps new “foodie” grocery clerks happy.


Read more...

Business partnerships: taming the three-headed monster

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 06, 2015
070615-businessmarriagefail-thumbBY KATHERINE HEEKIN | OB GUEST COLUMNIST

Picking a business partner is not much different than choosing a spouse or life partner, and the business break-up can be as heart-wrenching and costly as divorce.


Read more...

House of Clarity

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Holding a Power Lunch at Veritable Quandary in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Marijuana law ushers in new business age

The Latest
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
062315panelthumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Oregon’s new marijuana law is expected to lead to a bevy of new business opportunities for the state. And not just for growers. Law firms, HR consultants, energy efficiency companies and many others are expected to benefit from the decriminalization of pot, according to panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast meeting on Tuesday.


Read more...

Wildcards

Guest Blog
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
China A SharesBY JASON NORRIS, CFA | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Uncertainty in Greece and China, along with potential interest rate hikes mean investors are looking at the market and nervously questioning where they should be invested.


Read more...

Apartment Mania

Guest Blog
Thursday, June 18, 2015
4805983977 11466ce1d6 zBY BRAD HOULE | CFA

While most categories of commercial real estate have performed well, one of the most robust has been apartment buildings.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS