16 March 2023
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When I first met Jody a number of years ago, I was blown away by her knowledge and passion. Even more importantly, I admired her ability to form connections. She takes the time to understand not only her clients, but the stories and the motivation behind the artists whose works she recommends. Armed with that knowledge, she can connect her clients with work that is not only beautiful but deeply meaningful. I could not think of a better person to speak with about how and why we embrace beauty.

As an art consultant, Jody brings beauty into the lives of her clients, helping to connect them with art and artists that speak to them. She has been doing this work for over 30 years, and it truly is her calling.

I’m fed intellectually and emotionally by what I do. It’s my life, my passion and my love.

Jody has always been creative. Although she studied art history and visual art in college, pursuing art as a profession was never her goal. Though she deeply admires how artists communicate ideas through the work of their hands, she knew that this was not what felt most natural to her. Some years later, in the midst of a career in marketing, a friend introduced her to Roselyne Swig, of Roselyne C. Artsource, a woman who would ultimately change the arc of her life and career.

She curated private collections, and I thought, ‘How cool that people get to live with art’.

Their first meeting was not a job interview. Nonetheless, after a single meeting, Roselyne invited Jody to come work with her, and tasked her to write her own description of what that work would be. Jody did so, and thus began a decades-long career. She worked with Roselyne to manage her own private collection, and expand the business. Along the way, Roselyne taught her about art. More importantly, she taught her about curiosity and openness, which lie at the heart of exploring and appreciating art and beauty in a meaningful way. In 1994, Jody — along with business partners Tessa Wilcox and  Kerri Hurtado — took the company into its second iteration as Artsource Consulting.

Roselyne was an extraordinary mentor; there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for what I learned from her.

What is beauty to you?
Let’s start by agreeing that beauty is different for everyone and that not all good art is beautiful (!). For me, beauty is a feeling of appreciation. It can be a starting point or a destination — something catches your eye or your attention, and draws you in. The aesthetic can be the bridge to a deeper connection. Beauty is an invitation to ask questions and to learn. Recognizing beauty is an engaged response, triggering something in your mind that wants to know more. It is a personal, active response, influenced both by the artist’s unique language and by our own life experience. Beauty lies in the connection between our outer and inner worlds — between the art and our reaction to it.

Is beauty essential?
Experiencing beauty is part of being human. For many artists, beauty is not the goal. As an art advisor, knowing that beauty is so subjective, we look further when evaluating artwork. What are the artist’s interests/influences? How does the idea relate to the choice of medium?…Is it well made? Is the language unique? Part of our job is to serve as translators, connecting the language and story of the artist to those of our clients. Beauty can be the doorway through which ideas are explored

How do you set about connecting your clients with beauty?
We start by asking questions, by listening, and by looking at art together in order to form a shared language to discuss art. We need to get to know our clients, find out what moves them and why. We work with both private clients and businesses and the approach is a little different.

For example, for a corporate client, we figure out what they do, why, and for whom. What do they value? If we understand that, we can create a bridge to the artists who embody those values. Together we create a criteria for selecting art. For example, for a venture capital company whose mission is to invest in and grow start-ups, we seek out artists whose work is inherently about the process of transformation. This way they can relate to the artwork on a more purposeful level. That sense of meaning and connection is what moves the artwork from the realm of decoration to the realm of beauty, appreciation and deeper relevance.

For private clients, it’s just more personal. We don’t have the same criteria to work with so we spend more time exposing our clients to a broad range of art…looking, discussing, learning, helping them expand their own knowledge of what’s out there and what matters to them. We have very long relationships with our clients. A project might start with a new home that needs art and becomes a long term pursuit that continues to inspire the client.

What separates lasting beauty from the ephemeral, or from trends?
Work that is grounded in ideas remains true. We stay away from trends. We aim to build collections with lasting value, aesthetic, conceptual and economic.

Do you work with your clients to incorporate a larger narrative or purpose?
Yes! The corporate criteria is one way that happens. For private clients, they often grow into collections that have threads of connection. For a few clients, we curate temporary exhibitions….a technology company asked us to bring contemporary art into its space in a meaningful way that spoke to their diversity and inclusion values. As a first step, we curated a show that is centered on a familiar topic, the American landscape. From an aesthetic point of view, the exhibition features beautiful images in a range of mediums and approaches of our shared landscape.

Upon further investigation, the viewer learns that the artworks express the American landscape from a variety of viewpoints, looking beyond the white male perspective presented in most traditional landscape painting to see it through the lens and experiences of Black, Asian, Latinx, Queer and Native American artists. Each work of art is beautiful, and that beauty draws you in. Then we begin to peel back the layers to share the perspectives of the artists who are often underrepresented in this subject matter.

Can you talk a bit about beauty and wellness?
Marin Health hired us to curate an art collection for the hospital’s new expansion. It was a project that deeply inspired us — a multi-year project that was installed at the start of the pandemic. We believe that art in the healthcare setting is absolutely essential for healing and, unfortunately, art in these settings is often selected with very little intention.

Our goal was to curate a collection that is completely in service of those being cared for and those providing care. Science tells us that nature helps us heal, so we worked closely with the architects at Perkins Eastman and the clinical staff to curate a collection grounded in the beauty of the natural setting right outside the hospital doors. The question was how to bring the impact of nature inside, not just through pictures or representations of nature, but through artwork that evokes the feelings we get when we are immersed in the outdoors. We created a journey through the hospital, using art in all different mediums, many of them site specific, to bring forth the joy we feel in our Northern California landscape. It was important to us that the hand of the artist was present, because it reflects the humanity behind the making. The amount of care, thought and intention to placing art in such a high stress environment is a form of beauty itself.

Now for a few fun questions…

What’s the one thing you love most about what you do
Creating a connection between the artwork and client is probably one of the most rewarding things we do. Their eyes light up! We present the work based on ideas, and the artwork reinforces the story of what they value and how they live on a daily basis. The most important thing to me is that my clients are connecting to the work. A big part of what we do is to open doors, and open eyes.

Who — or what — inspires you?
Artists…everyday. I’m endlessly in awe of how they communicate through their work and how that expression grows my own understanding of the world around me.

What’s the single best business or creative advice you’ve ever received?
Stay curious.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Studying the brain.

How do you love spending time outside of work?
I love being in nature…hiking, waterskiing, travel, cycling, cooking, reading, learning new things.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
When I was completing a week-long art installation of the US Embassy in Tunisia, a local construction worker who was not allowed to talk to the Americans working in the building approached me, slyly pulling something from his sock and covertly handed it to me. Written on a gum wrapper was a marriage proposal.

Last book you read?
In Praise of Shadows by Junichirō Tanizaki

Do you have a favorite quote? If so, we’d love to hear it!
“Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree and act of imagination” — Oliver Sacks