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AESTHETIC DISPLAY: SRAC Corporate Art Coordinator Avery Parrish stands beside a painting by Meike Aton at the Center for Plastic Surgery.
SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton
AESTHETIC DISPLAY: SRAC Corporate Art Coordinator Avery Parrish stands beside a painting by Meike Aton at the Center for Plastic Surgery.

Beautifying Business: Arts council works to prove local work is worth its price tag

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Two Springfield Regional Arts Council executives are on a mission to build the value of local artists’ work.

“More often than not, artists receive requests for free donations or [hear] ‘Come and hang your work for exposure,’” SRAC Executive Director Leslie Forrester said. “We wouldn’t ask a builder to build us a house because it would give him exposure.”

The SRAC’s Corporate Arts Program aims to prove artwork is worth what it’s priced. It connects local businesses with area artists to display or purchase their pieces.

“(The artists) send me all of their specifications and their price points and I reach out to businesses to find out what their aesthetic is, what they’re really looking for in a space and what financially works for them,” SRAC Corporate Art Coordinator Avery Parrish said.

In addition, there are no fees for artists interested in the program’s services, with the caveat they they’re a member of the council. Members pay an annual fee of $25, Parrish said.

Though the council’s Corporate Arts Program is about 10 years old, Forrester said there’s a renewed interest.

“There seems to be a lot of buildings going up,” Forrester said, noting as construction nears completion, SRAC organizers reach out to the building owners and tenants. “It seems there’s a lot more interest or an understanding of what it means to have local art on your walls – not something that’s mass-produced.”

A unique piece, Parrish added, could mean the difference between a productive day and a long string of tired tasks.

“Taking a break and looking at an inspiring piece of artwork might help employees develop different ideas and different approaches,” Parrish said. “We want people to have a business environment that is affected by the positivity and the ingenuity of artists.”

Remarkable works
Last week, Parrish traveled to Farmers Park to work with Guaranty Bank Vice President and Director of Marketing Carlye Wannenmacher and put the finishing touches on the walls of a new branch.

In July, Guaranty Bank signed a lease for 26,000 square feet on three of four floors of a planned 55,000-square-foot-building in Farmers Park. Its new artwork includes a mixture of paintings and photography, all by local artists.

“Right now, we have 43 pieces of art that we’ve procured,” Wannenmacher said, noting only one piece was leased while the rest were purchased.

She declined to disclose the price of the work.

Wannenmacher said she hopes customers will appreciate seeing local artists’ pieces in the bank, though there’s more to it than that.

“It adds a whole other layer of community connection,” Wannenmacher said. “Farmers Park – that’s a big part of its identity. It’s us being a good tenant of this development.”

Wannenmacher said there’s even more space for artwork to be featured at the bank in the future, perhaps for sculptures or other 3-D pieces.

Other Springfield businesses that have featured local artistry through SRAC’s program include the Center for Plastic Surgery, currently featuring the artwork of Meike Aton, and Elliott, Robinson & Co. LLP.

Spokeswoman Brenda Raynor for Elliott, Robinson & Co. said the firm has been displaying pieces in its gallery since 2014.

“The firm’s clients enjoy the variety,” Raynor said. “They’ll always take a moment to walk through and see the art.”

Elliott Robinson & Co. hosts a reception for the artists after the firm’s four-month art lease is up. Digital photography artist Alan O’Neal will be up for celebration soon. His pieces have been on display since September, Raynor said. Karla Breeding Trammell’s work will go up in January.

Paid painter
Local artist Stephanie Cramer’s work will be displayed inside a large boardroom at Guaranty Bank for six months. She’s one of several artists to have work featured inside Guaranty Bank’s new location.

“I’m a colorist and an expressionist. My paintings are very large and very colorful,” Cramer says. “Sometimes they have figures in them, or they don’t.”

One piece is 48 inches by 60 inches, streaked with hues of pink, yellow, blue and red, and dubbed “Red River Bluff.” She declined to disclose further terms of the lease on the art.

Another piece by Cramer, a Giclee, was purchased by the bank. Because Giclees are a reproduction of the original piece, produced by a digital printing process with pigment-based inks, they are less expensive to purchase, though Cramer declined to disclose the artwork’s price.

“I like having someone else represent me, because I would probably mark my paintings down too low,” Cramer added.

A previous employee of the SRAC, Cramer decided to pursue painting full-time in July. She’s passionate that artists get paid what they deserve.

“I don’t like to use the word exposure, because I’ve recently left my full-time job. I’m pretty exposed,” Cramer said, noting her work displayed right inside Hotel Vandivort and Equality Healthcare LLC.

“I think that’s what makes people want to live in this great community is we have so much art, so many galleries and so many great theaters and people should be paid to (perform), and to play their music and paint their paintings.”

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