By Amber SNIDER
Visual art is rarely synonymous with real estate, but the two seemingly disparate worlds can share a symbiotic relationship even though the connections are not always obvious. To compete and succeed in the luxury real estate market is an art form in and of itself. Different forms of art are employed in the practice every day: savvy advertising choices, meticulous home staging and creative sales techniques. However, visual art rarely gets its due credit in this fast-paced arena.
The Tribeca Team at BOND New York, somehow manages to bridge this gap, and more importantly, does so altruistically. They created a monthly event at their Tribeca office, called “First Wednesdays,” to showcase local artists’ work and engage the community in artistic discourse. Created three years ago by Naomi Muramatsu, sales manager at BOND and no longer with the firm, alongside six agents, this event features both established and upcoming local artists with mediums ranging from acrylic and oil to photography.
“It’s an eclectic mix of new art each month with varying themes. Sometimes we do a solo show and other times a group show. One month we focused on Spanish- themed art and even had a Mariachi band,” remarked Muramatsu.
But you may ask: Why employ art to further the efforts of real estate? To highlight the art-centric atmosphere of the neighborhood, the Tribeca Team decided to build upon this historical-cultural bond and give back to its residents. “In the background, the whole origination of wanting to be in this neighborhood started with art. There are many original working artists still living in huge lofts, some that aren’t even converted,” says Muramatsu.
“We love talking to the artists about the changes of the area and what it was like years ago,” she adds.
The BOND office already embodies a “gallery feel,” with marble floors, tall ceilings, and pristine glass windows. What better way to build a connection with the community than to host a monthly art event right in the office? The space doesn’t simply function as an art gallery; all works are for sale, with 100% of the proceeds going back to the individual creators/artists. During special events, like silent auctions, artists will donate their work for charity causes, such as Rescuzilla, a NYC-based foundation that benefits animal rescue.
“Our events are beneficial to the community and buyers alike. We’re creating a space where people can put their feet up, have a drink, and hold conversation about the work itself. Art is the perfect match for connecting with people in the Tribeca area,” says Muramatsu.
Likewise, Miron Properties, a brokerage with three offices (Manhattan, Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Bergen County, NJ) also combines charity and culture via their affiliation with Art Start, a NYC-based organization whose purpose is to nurture the voices, hearts and minds of at-risk youth by providing art and music workshops conducted daily inside NYC homeless shelters.
Jeff Schleider, the founder and managing director of Miron Properties, explains, “Art Start has an impeccable reputation—they’re a young-minded, alternative non-profit that brings art workshops to at-risk youth, including those at local homeless shelters. Instead of donating to a gigantic non-profit where much of the donation goes to administrative costs, I want to know that what I’m putting out there makes a direct difference.” At their annual holiday party this year, Schleider even had young musicians from Art Start perform early on in the night.
“While we’re celebrating our hard work, we’d like to give back to our community in a venue that supports the arts in general,” says Schleider. “Many of our agents have a background in the arts, and it’s an important part of their personality. Through our partnership with Art Start, we celebrate our agents’ creativity, while supporting a phenomenal organization that is creating opportunities for at-risk youth in our community.”
Alfa Development, a local developer of sustainable residential buildings, regularly hosts art events for various charities at Gallery 151, a premier pop-up gallery that was founded by Michael Namer, the CEO of Alfa Development. Their most recent benefit showcased the artwork of Rock Paper Photo, a curated photography e-commerce site with an extensive inventory of rare and iconic pop culture images, and raised over $4500 for the Habitat for Humanity relief efforts in the Philippines.
In the upcoming months, Alfa Development will be hosting another event at Gallery 151 benefitting The Tanzanian Children’s Fund. This charity/art event will feature a show with New York artist John Platt, who will be traveling to The Rift Valley Children’s Village in Arusha, Tanzania this year to lead a six week art program for orphans there. He will bring select artwork back to the US for a special show at Gallery 151 later in 2014.
As lucky as we are to live in New York City and do what we love, everyday life tends to create separation. Sometimes art is the cultural bridge that ties us all back together as human beings. Art doesn’t divide us up into sub-categories of differences, it reminds us that we are all in this together. George Bernard Shaw’s said, “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” Art reminds us to see things as they are, and also to see things as they are not—it reminds us that there’s always another perspective. In the luxury real estate arena, the ability to think outside the box, to see things differently, to make connections, and to revolutionize the mundane, is essential. Sounds a bit like art, right?