Home Back Issues June 2013 The art whisperer

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

The Scott Kveton affair

News
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
ScottKvetonBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.


Read more...

Interview: Dr. Mark Goulston

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 10, 2014
JustListenBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.


Read more...

Risks & rewards of owning triple net investments

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 24, 2014
NNNinvestmentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.


Read more...

Private liberal arts education: superior outcomes, competitive price

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
0826 thumb collegemoneyBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Why has six years become an acceptable investment in public undergraduate education that over-promises and underperforms?


Read more...

Who said we should sell in May?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, July 18, 2014
BullMarketBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Back in May, we shared a common Wall Street quote about investing, “Sell in May and go away.” Fast forward to July and the most common question we have been getting from clients is, “When is the market pullback going to occur?”


Read more...

Portland rises

News
Monday, August 18, 2014

IMG 2551Portland is in the middle of another construction boom, with residential and office projects springing up downtown, in the Pearl and Old Town. OB Web Editor Jessica Ridgway documents the new wave.


Read more...

Is this employee right?

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
081314 thumb employeefeelingsBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

When I say, “Your Employee is Always Right,” I do not mean “right about the facts,” but rather “right about how they feel” and “right about how they want to be led.”


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