Jack Hobbs

Would you consider looking at a painting on the wall of a lobby an “experience”? I would. 

This next generation seems far less interested in a consumerbased life and prefer instead to enjoy the experiences of life. 

This experience also extends to art. Walk into an attorney’s office, or that of a commercial Realtor, and you will often see a display of art that might take you from the coastal regions of Maine to scenes of the America West.  

Viewing these works can be, for the bank or real estate customer, a brief transport to places and experiences that are on your dance card but that you have not yet seen. In that brief encounter with the piece of art, you will have experienced something that you will take with you for the rest of the day or longer. 

The Right Art Sets the Mood 

Recently, I visited my local bank to open a new account. Sitting in the waiting area, I realized there was something deliberate occurring.  

From the walk through the doors, to approaching the concierge to the intentional “waiting period,” I was bombarded with marketing material. Video monitors with talking heads selling banking products, wall posters advertising the latest rates, even an entire wall that continually morphed into different displays of additional information of all the good things this bank could do for me.  

There was so much information that it was difficult to consider a single item being offered. And it became more intense when I stepped into the banking officer’s private office; more brochures, handouts, sales tactics. 

Seeing this landscape of marketing messages was overwhelming, and I sought a place to rest my eyes and reset my brain. Today’s business experience is often megamarketing. This is not restricted to banks; thanks to social media, the transactional experience permeates many of today’s business interactions.  

The Right Art Clears the Mind 

Which brings me to the importance of art in bank lobbies, as well as foyers for attorneys, and commercial real estate offices. People remember locations that display creative work – building lobbies, conference rooms, public parks – places that offer a pleasant respite. The right combination of art affords the chance to rest your eyes and transport yourself to another world, even for just a few moments. 

When I reflect on the spaces, lobbies, building entries, waiting area, conference rooms and executive offices that I have seen in my career, the memorable ones offered food for the mind. A display of creative art work clears the mind for a moment, resets the brain and lets you get on with your day. In my visit to this particular bank, there was no artwork to make the experience worth remembering. There should have been. 

Stepping into a building and encountering a painting hanging on the wall of the elevator lobby or a highlighted sculpture offers a quick respite before embarking upon the next meeting.   

One I particularly remember is a scene of Scoodic Point in Arcadia National Park. In that painting, you see coastal scenes, cliffs and crashing waves with the distant rising sun creating gold bullion on the distant ocean horizon. It can be interesting, memorable and something that you take with you and which becomes a part of you.  

Financial and Intellectual Rewards 

Having been an art collector and a serious painter for the past 30 years, I have found rewards in these efforts, intellectually and financially.  

One of my first art purchases was a Marine painting by the now deceased Michael Keane. It’s an image of three catboats on a run into the horizona striking piece with warm tones of the sun highlighting the gaff-rigged sails repeated in a pattern of three. The painting was 20 inches by 30 inches, selling for a mere $450.  

I couldn’t write the check fast enough.  

This was one of the artist’s most popular paintings, so much so that a year later he borrowed the piece and produced a limited run of the giclee prints, each priced at more than I paid for the original painting. This painting had appreciated over the few years that I owned it. Being a young father with increasing expenses, I couldn’t justify owning a painting whose value had grown to 40 times the purchase price in three years, and I sold it.  

There is great value to investing in art for the individual collector. But, for the bankers, the commercial Realtors, the attorneys and property managers, having the right type of art in their lobbies and on display can help set a relaxing tone for the transactions. 

Jack Hobbs is a painter, art collector and owner of the South Street Gallery and Hobbs Fine Art in Hingham.  

For Banks and Commercial Realtors, Impressions Matter, and Art Can Be Key

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 3 min