Art Initiative Co-founders (back in the day)

A friend of mine asked me recently how old our company, Art Initiative, is now. I seriously had to think for a second before saying “19 years old”.  How could that even be possible?  Two crazy 20 year olds decided to start an art consulting firm, and here we are now! OK, we were a little older than that, but we were young and more than a little naive. We saw a gap in the industry though, and we went for it!  We started Art Initiative in Kimberley’s little condo on Peachtree Street.  We had a shared phone and fax machine, and a dial up internet connection when we got our first big hotel project, and we were off and running.

We’ve steered this thing through two recessions, two separate flooded offices (I swear), long hours, missed vacations, and a hell of a lot of laughs. There were the magical projects where every detail lined up perfectly, and those projects that felt just plain snake-bitten from the start. I wouldn’t trade one bit of it either. Calm seas don’t make great sailors, right?

Our staff. We are, simply put, the best art advisory firm out there because we have the most talented, dedicated, loyal, amazing staff.  Kira has been with us since 2001, and Maddie joined us in 2006. Watching the two of them become the professional consultants they are has been an astonishing honor for us.  My sister, Karen Loeffler, joined us last year, leaving an executive leadership position at a major corporation, she’s brought this great company fresh perspective and a force that reminds me every day we had the same parents. They’re gone now, but I know they would be proud.

Our clients have been with us through it all. I am maybe most proud of the client list that appears on our website because they’re long-term clients and now friends, who have placed their trust in us time and time again to provide them with the extraordinary service and creativity we’ve become known for.  None of this would be-without them.

If you asked me what one thing it takes to run a successful small company, I would tell you perseverance above all else. It’s a little like I once heard an artist explain marble carving, “you can hit the stone hundreds of times before it finally chips the way you want, but you have to keep hitting the stone.”

Whatever it is you dream of doing, make it so big it scares the living hell out of you. It’s only then you come to know what you’re truly capable of.

Thanks for 19 phenomenal years, and just WAIT to see what’s coming next…



I received an email this morning from one of the many artists we are connected with in the Houston area, to let us know that he and his family were safe, but that many area artists had lost artwork and studios and are in need of all of our assistance.

This is a great time to remind people of the phenomenal work done by CERF+  in supporting artists during times of crisis.

CERF+ was started by artists for artists as a grassroots mutual aid effort in 1985, and has become the leading nonprofit organization that uniquely focuses on safeguarding artists’ livelihoods nationwide.

CERF+ is readiness, relief  and resilience for studio artists, ensuring that they are as protected as the work they create.

Houston-area artist Peter Hite has pledged 10% donation of any commissions of his work to the artist relief effort, and I wanted to make sure I showed just one of his beautiful works here made entirely of collaged vintage postage stamps-they are spectacular works!  Our spirits here at Art Initiative are with everyone affected by this terrible series of events. Please consider donating whatever you can to CERF+ in this time of great need.


Over the past week, I’ve thought a lot about art and it’s place in our current world, both as a source of beauty and inherent pleasure, and as a catalyst for deeper meaning and purpose.  One of my oldest friends lost her house, in what seemed like an instant, to a devastating fire last Tuesday. The fire reduced her life, as it  had existed in objects, photographs and daily personal necessities, to a pile of ash.

In a testament to her inimitable spirit and strength, she was the calm, steady anchor as I completely freaked out. She was fine, her family was fine, and the pets all got out safely. She didn’t care about anything else. Honestly.  Everything else that burned up was temporal, and it simply-did. not. matter.

I struggle with my own feelings, in the wake of her loss, of how devastated I know I would be to lose paintings, still so full of life, from friends who have died, sculptures carved and finished over months and years of an artist’s life-irreplaceable gifts to the world, we are simply watching over for an all too brief moment. Art, great art, makes a promise to the future  to make sense of, give insight and context, into our current world.

So, I wouldn’t have the strength of my friend, Jill.

Maybe the point of loss, and we’ve all had our share of devastating loss, is self-reflection.

There’s a quote I love by William Blake-“Eternity is in love with the productions of time.”

So-we march on.

benny 2

                                                                                          Benny Andrews, The Seedling



We love the collaborative process of creating site specific works of art for our clients and we get to work with some pretty amazing artists and designers in the process. As we round out a busy week at Art Initiative, we wanted to share a glimpse of one of our favorite local artists, Cat Tesla. She is not only one of the hardest working artists we know, she is a pleasure to be around—and that lightness translates into her work. Her three large commissioned canvases she’s working on in the image below will bring that same light and energy into the space it will soon reside, and be shared with hundreds of people every day. Over 17 years ago, we founded Art Initiative on a simple belief—that art has the power to transform a space–and it’s moments like these that we’re incredibly grateful, because we truly love what we do.









Atlanta artist Cat Tesla working on paintings commissioned for a local project.

The request for eco-friendly artwork and materials has never been more prevalent in our industry than it is now, and we are asked more and more frequently for artwork created by artists who utilize re-purposed and reclaimed materials. Luckily, there are some amazing artists using these types of materials in truly exciting and unexpected ways.  We’re so excited to be in the early concept stages for a focal lobby piece for the new Hotel Indigo Vinings property opening later this year.  Atlanta artist Kathleen Plate will be working on a large-scale hanging sculptural composition that re-purposes bottles by slicing and polishing them into colorful rings.  Here’s an example of  her beautiful work:

Here is a recently installed series of shadowboxed sculptural pinwheels constructed entirely of assembled reclaimed wood strips. These were placed in a resort setting in Florida, and perfectly capture the sun-drenched, wind weathered look we were going for:


Sometimes the shapes and colors of foundry items are so artful, you need only add hanging hardware to the backs of them and assemble them on the wall.


Painted and polished log splices energize the coffee area of an Atlanta-based financial headquarters:



…and a collection of old architectural metal collaged and assembled with wood from an old boat come together in this piece that now hangs in the Hotel Indigo Garden District, but served as an impromptu backdrop for our dog while it was in our studio waiting for delivery to New Orleans:

photoIt’s exciting to see what artists are doing with collected, re-purposed, recycled materials! Let us know what you’re seeing that inspires you!


When you talk about the concept of an Art Hotel in the US, you most certainly cannot overlook the original 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, KY.  There are now two other 21c Museum Hotel  locations in Cincinnati, OH and Bentonville, AR and one slated for opening in 2015 in Durham, NC, but the original Louisville location is really seen as the start of it all, in terms of combining a museum and a hotel in the US.  The original Louisville-based 21c Museum Hotel was opened in 2006 by art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson in the historic district of downtown Louisville, and combines special exhibitions with a top-notch permanent collection of contemporary art and some amazing site-specific installation including a cloud machine by MacArthur Fellow Ned Kahn, an interactive cascading poem entitled “Text Rain” by Camille Utterback  and the 21c famous red penguin sculptures by the Cracking Art Group.  What is so incredible about the collection and the hotel, is that all of it is available to guests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!  If you haven’t been to the original 21c, it’s a great trip and I highly encourage you to go for a weekend. The art is spectacular and there’s lots to do in and around Louisville!

The 21c Hotel Famous Red Penguin

The 21c Hotel Famous Red Penguin

Check-in Desk at the Hotel

Check-in Desk at the Hotel


Co-founder Kimberley Campbell and the cascading poem in the Elevator Lobby

Co-founder Kimberley Campbell and the cascading poem in the Elevator Lobby

Happy New Year! I’ve been thinking a lot about trends we’ve seen this year in Miami at Art Basel 2013, and how those trends apply to what we do in the hybrid Art/Design world.  There was so much emphasis on new  or unexpected materials this year in Miami. I can’t tell you how much felt, yarn, cut paper and wood we saw used in such exciting ways.

We have noticed a move away from framed art in the past few years, and we are asked much more often now for artist fabricated architectural elements like screens and lighting.  Art has become more interactive and experiential than ever before.  Here’s a photo of one of the laser cut walnut screens we created for the newly renovated Sun Dial restaurant at the top of the Westin Peachtree Plaza and a photo of our Lobby screen dividers for the same project.

Sun Dial Screen

Laser-Cut Screen at Sun Dial Restaurant


Custom Screens Being Installed at Westin Peachtree Plaza

Custom Screens Being Installed at Westin Peachtree Plaza

I think the gravitation away from what we have traditionally viewed as artwork is a trend we will continue to see develop as technology and art collide.  The accessibility of video art for home use and hand-held devices  is something I find particularly interesting, and the site S/edition is doing this incredibly well.  Check them out if you haven’t already:  It’s mind-blowing to me that you can purchase a Jenny Holzer editioned video piece for less than $100 and have it play on your home television or tablet!

Let me know what your thoughts are! Are you seeing trends in Art & Design that you find interesting?

Happy New Year! Make it everything you want it to be.

Please read the  terrific piece by Deanna Sirlin entitled Her Left Cheek included in this month’s online issue of  The Art Section.  If you haven’t discovered this online critical arts magazine, I encourage you to subscribe. It’s rich with fantastic contemporary art content, much of it written by our great friend, the artist and recent author, Deanna Sirlin.

This month Deanna takes The High Museum to task for its marketing blitz focusing on  Vermeer’s masterpiece Girl With A Pearl Earring  currently on view as part of the High’s exhibition Girl With A Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis.  Deanna’s point is that by heavily marketing Vermeer’s”Girl “, The High has, in essence, overshadowed the 34 additional masterpieces in the exhibition.   Deanna, I hope you will not take offense, but I’m going to disagree with you on this one.  Having worked for a non-profit arts center early in my career, I can tell you that sitting around a table trying to figure out how to get people through the turnstiles was a daunting challenge, and that was before the world of instant technology had taken up valuable mental real estate of potential museum-goers. While I agree that “Vermeer with a Schmear”  (The High’s offer of  bagels  and coffee with admission) seems downright silly, it’s precisely the kind of event that attracts folks who might not ordinarily visit the High to see not only Vermeer’s famous Girl, but the additional, lesser known works and artists in the exhibition. The goal is, and should be, to get people through the damned turnstiles, because once they’re in, there’s much more than the Vermeer to behold.  You speak, in your piece, about being weak in the knees while spellbound by an artist you’d never heard of.  Mission accomplished.

My friend, you and I are impassioned by the visual arts-we would have gone to the exhibition with or without the incentive of a schmear, so these marketing campaigns are not really aimed at us.   The bottom line is, museums like The High have a responsibility to the works they exhibit that will always supercede any marketing campaign, and that is to have the work viewed by as large an audience as possible, and it’s a  tough task these days.

In closing, I just couldn’t resist the High’s promotion to create a “Go Girl” masterpiece with my German Shepherd, so I present to you,  in all her glory:  Luca with a Pearl Earring.  C’mon, admit it…it’s pretty fun!

Luca With A Pearl Earring

Luca With A Pearl Earring


7-29 photo

After many months of preparation and some crazy logistics, we are super excited to be a full week in to the six week commission of the monumental painting on the four story core of the iconic Portman-designed Westin Peachtree Plaza here in Atlanta. We’ll keep the blog posted with progress photos and please check our Facebook project page for photos and video . Thanks to everyone involved in the process, most especially the amazing painter Raymond Saa, who is not only hand painting the entire circumference of the core including 75 feet or so in height, but who learned to operate an interior boom lift just to complete the commission! Raymond is a phenomenal artist, and we’re thrilled to be a part of this incredible transformation.

Maybe it’s because both of our office locations have been beside the train tracks or  that Atlanta’s history is so closely tied with the railroad industry, but I’m pretty much a sucker for all things train-related,  even when they roar by our office with horns blaring so loud it shakes the rafters and we have to ask people if we can call them back if we’re on the phone.  So we were pretty excited when the Hotel Indigo brand asked us to procure a selection of train-related murals for an Atlanta area Hotel Indigo.  We sent our photographer out for four days to capture some pretty amazing imagery.  Here are a few shots of the installed murals, one of which is nearly the same size as an actual box car.  Thanks to everyone who made it happen!

Almost Life-size Boxcar Mural

Almost Life-size Boxcar Mural

Hotel Indigo Guest Room Mural

Hotel Indigo Guest Room Mural

Train Wheel Mural Guestroom

Train Wheel Mural Guestroom

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