Sunday, June 20, 2010

Interview: Art Lover and Realtor Extraordinare Brandon Stewart

What is your name: Brandon Stewart

What field are you in: Residential Real Estate

What motivated you to get in the line of work you are in: My specialization in real estate stems from a background in architecture. In 2005 I decided to purchase a mid-century modern home and found the lack of realtors with any sort of knowledge of the modern genre quite discouraging to say the least. I made a mental bookmark that there was void in the real estate industry that wasn’t being filled. When the recession hit in 2008, unemployment in architecture surged to 48%. As one of the casualties from a large corporate firm in Dallas, I took advantage of the downturn to obtain my real estate license and specialize in modern housing.

What's the best thing about your job: Meeting new people and helping them find the home of their dreams inspires me on a daily basis. My clients from the design community make the experience even more special because they have such elaborate plans for how they want to renovate their home. They live for the opportunity to put that special mark on their home, and I really enjoy advising them about the design and architectural possibilities of each potential home. I essentially play the role of realtor, architect, and friend all at the same time.

You have a passion for the arts when did that start: I’ve loved art since I was a child. My mother still actively paints and she always encouraged me to be a creative soul. As my education in architecture advanced, so did my appreciation for the arts. I truly believe the world would be a better place if more people supported the arts.

You feature artists, what prompted that: I love art myself and believe that talented artists should be able to make a living doing what they love. Because my clients in real estate are typically members of the design community, they tend to love art just as much as I do. Part of real estate is staying in contact with your potential clients on a regular basis. I know people get mailers from Realtors talking about tax credits, new listings, and all kinds of things that really aren’t that interesting. I decided to skip all of that and just use local art as a vehicle to stay in contact with my clients. Instead of reading about the latest real estate incentive, they get to see a significant piece of art work from a local artist that they probably have never heard of. I really just approached it as if I was seeing through my client’s eyes. I would much rather someone mail me a painting from a talented undiscovered artist every month than a bunch of real estate propaganda.

What has the response been: The response has been great. I’ve had a number of people approach me to say thank you for exposing them to so many local artists. As the size of the mailing list grows, I hope for an even greater response.

What is your favorite genre of art: I like many different types of art, but I would have to say surrealism is my favorite. I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of elements, especially when they twist our preconceptions about a subject. I also love the fact that the movement has had such a long-standing effect on film, literature, and even architecture and the built environment.

What is the most moving piece of art you have seen in person: I spent a summer in Italy when I was in college studying architecture. I was fortunate enough to visit the Guggenheim in Venice where I saw one of my favorite works of all time – Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. I’ve always loved the spatial qualities of Cubism, but this work has such a dynamic quality of motion that can really only be appreciated in person.

Are there any new exhibits you are interested planning on seeing: It’s exciting to see all of the new small galleries opening around town. The next exhibit I plan on attending is the “I Am Woman” exhibit at Rising Gallery… though most likely something else will pop up before then.

Dallas has really come a long way with its arts community. Ten years ago I would drive to Houston to experience multiple world-class museums in a day. But now with the Nasher, the Fort Worth Modern, the Kimball and its newly planned addition, and the DMA, we have significant collections right here in our own city. I really credit Ray Nasher for changing the direction of art in Dallas forever. His amazing collections, and the fact that he so generously shared them, truly put Dallas on the art map.

Who is your favorite artist of all time, and why: That is such a difficult question to answer. I can’t really narrow it down to just one. Art is like fine wine - it complements the surroundings and context in which it is consumed or viewed. These are some of my historical favorites: Picasso for the spatial depth and altered perspectives in his cubist works. Salvador Dali for mastering the element of surprise. HR Giger for his truly organic design vocabulary and questionable perversion. Wassily Kandinsky for his dynamic compositions and expressive use of color. Paul Klee for the child-like quality of his drawings and his work at the Bauhaus.

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