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When businesses partner for social impact, everyone wins

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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When businesses partner for social impact, everyone wins

The Leesa Dream Gallery™”,the world’s first combined mattress store and art gallery is a solid illustration of art breathing life into communities. In this high-end retail concept, you can naturally experience a beautifully crafted mattress while appreciating artwork created by undiscovered artists seeking to change their lives through their art – no pushy salespeople allowed.

 

The gallery is a partnership between Leesa®,the high-end, direct-to-consumer online mattress company, and ArtLifting, an online art marketplace for homeless, disabled, and other disadvantaged artists to sell their artwork. 

 

This collaboration of two forward-thinking companies can be attributed to Leesa and ArtLifting’s unique shared sentiment of ‘create opportunity and change lives’. “Having successfully introduced a new mattress and a new way to shop online in our first year, The Leesa Dream Gallery is the next frontier. Combining with ArtLifting to create a new kind of retail experience while giving homeless and disabled artists a platform to show and sell their art is a dream come true,” said Leesa Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer David Wolfe. “People in need don’t want a handout, they want the ability to change their lives,” said Liz Powers, ArtLifting co-founder and chief happiness spreader. 

 

As the two joined to build this first mattress retail/gallery of its kind, they imprinted a path for social enterprise and business to use art as a means for storytelling, customer engagement, and enhanced quality of life. Where else will you see a business focused on bringing a premium memory foam mattress that looks better, feels better, and costs less coupled with a for-profit enterprise dedicated to providing a platform for artists to empower themselves through the celebration and sale of their artwork?

 

And, what are the wins for each business? Leesa’s product became rated higher than all of its direct-to-consumer competitors and they became the number one fastest growing e-retailer according to Internet Retailer’s 2016 Top 500 Guide. Leesa also released a stunning limited edition mattress cover inspired by a formerly homeless artist discovered by ArtLifting. And ArtLifting’s artist received a percentage of every sale. And by securing income and connecting with a larger audience, their artists garner positivity that permeates every aspect of their lives.

 

 

Photo courtesy of ArtLifting.

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The Art of Pizza in NYC

Posted by Kate Reese
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The Art of Pizza in NYC

When a love of art and Italian food combine, the result is delizioso. In 2011, local entrepreneurs and Neapolitan food purveyors Bruno Cilio and Dario Cipollaro de l’Ero opened a combination restaurant and art gallery, PizzArte, located steps from the Museum of Modern Art.

 

PizzArte curator Sunny Shin, who also curates for Coohaus and Gallery Ho, rotates pieces for the gallery every four to six months, displaying pieces from prominent Italian and international artists. Two such talents are sculptors and painters Paola Romano, who has exhibited at the Venetian Biannual, and Lello Esponito, who has shown in the United States, Italy, and Spain.

 

The art features help PizzArte convey the restaurant’s emphasis on quality and craftsmanship. “The idea was to create a place that wasn’t just going to feed your stomach, but your mind,” said owner Bruno Cilio to a DNAinfo reporter. Cilio firmly believes that fine art should be experienced on more than just gallery walls. He views the restaurant as “less a business venture than a way to celebrate the art, food and traditions of home,” the article states.

 

PizzArte’s owners draw connections between the hand-painted art on the restaurant’s walls and the hand-made artisan pizzas in their kitchen. The hope is that customers will feel engaged with the work on display, “providing an opportunity to intimately engage with it and to have the feeling of actually living with art.”

 

Photo: PizzArte Facebook page. 

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What’s Trending: Attracting & Engaging Creative Talent with Art in the Workplace

Posted by Kate Reese
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What’s Trending: Attracting & Engaging Creative Talent with Art in the Workplace

 

According to an article published by Fast Company, some of America’s most desirable companies for prospective employees share a creative culture enhanced by art as a common dominator. This culture attracts creative candidates who help the companies remain innovative. Facebook, IDEO, and Virgin America, for example, boast inspiring workspaces and provide activities that build community among employees and encourage fresh perspectives.

 

At IDEO, a design and consulting firm, employees encounter multiple personal projects lining the hallways, from a mural of Instagram photos to a mystery project in the making comprised of discarded items donated from staff. IDEO is “intentionally creating moments—spaces, walls to draw on, the piano, culture-building events—to [help employees] bring their whole selves to the workplace," says managing director Clark Scheffy. This sentiment is articulated in the company’s “Little Book of Ideo,” which illustrates the company’s cultural values.

 

Virgin America’s office and terminals are consistent with the company’s popular “party” brand—guests and employees are greeted with rock music and freshly cut flowers.

 

Facebook’s sparse office workspace is punctuated by larger than life art installations and murals created by rotating artists-in-residence. According to Drew Bennet who runs the program, “it’s allowing the community that is already engaged in so much creativity to have a reference, a backdrop of their reality, in a more tactile way." The company also offers employees the chance to participate in workshops for learning hands-on artistic endeavors, such as print making and wood working. By facilitating these classes, Facebook develops workplace skills that go beyond the computer screen.

 

"When I see designers pushing their personal edges, I get extremely excited," says Scheffy. "Of course, it's terrifying as well, and I prefer for it to happen at the beginning of a project when working with a client so we can recover and redirect if we need. But I constantly seek that magic space where we are challenged and pushing our limits. That's where the best work happens."

 

Photo: IDEO's Chicago office.

 

Learn more about art in the workplace.

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Brewing up New Partnerships in California

Posted by Brooke LaRue
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Business owner Samuel Gilbert has set the arts brewing in North Oakland, California. This summer, while awaiting pending permits before opening the New Normal Brewing company, Gilbert forged a connection with the community by inviting the arts in. Instead of choosing to let the building stand vacant before officially opening for business, Gilbert invited local artists to display their work in his space, noting that both beer and art bring people together.


Together with San Francisco's Guerrero Gallery, the future site of New Normal Brewing company hosted 3 art shows for the community, each featuring multiple artists. The shows brought in many future customers. Gilbert sold New Normal beer at each show, and donated the thousands of dollars he made to local nonprofits.


Construction on the New Normal Brewing company began in August 2015, and Gilbert hopes to have an official opening by the end of the year. After his pre-launch success, Gilbert plans to continue to incorporate the arts into New Normal Brewing. He recently told East Bay Express that he is interested in the similarities between visual-art and brewing’s creative processes.


According to East Bay Express, he also noted that, “any brewery has an abundance of ‘wall space,’ both in terms of literal walls on which you can display artwork, as well as the various paraphernalia and swag that are associated with the company’s brand name — bottle labels, tap handles, and so forth. ‘In my case, I want all of those surfaces to be places for artists to showcase their work.’”
 

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Wix Uses Art to Inspire Entrepreneurs

Posted by Kellyn Lopes
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Wix, the popular cloud-based web development platform, develops its community of users by providing work space in New York and San Francisco, called the Wix Lounge. On November 18, the Arts & Business Council of NY (ABC/NY) hosted its Arts Volunteer Fair networking event at the Wix Lounge in Chelsea, Manhattan, one of the many events to facilitate arts and business partnerships in New York City.

 

Wix users are mostly comprised of small business owners, artists, freelancers and entrepreneurs. Since the New York Wix Lounge opened in 2010, it has connected Wix users offline through its collaborative working space, offering tech support, networking opportunities and other events. Most interestingly, however, is that Wix Lounge also doubles as an art gallery!

 

Each month, the Wix Lounge hosts up-and-coming local artists and curators to transform and animate the space. Any artist living in New York City with a Wix website can submit their work to be exhibited. The collaborative process is another way for Wix to get to know its users face-to-face. The Wix Lounge art gallery has sparked other collaborations with organizations such as the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), Brooklyn Brush Studios, and The L.I.S.A.(Little Italy Street Art) Project, among others.

 

“Since artists have always been a big part of the Wix community, we knew we wanted to give back to them with an exhibition program where artists receive 100% of their profits on sales,” says Annie Marlarkey, New York Partnerships Manager at Wix Lounge.

When ABC/NY visited the Wix Lounge, the exhibit featured in the space was a collection of glass and light sculptures, called “neon,” mixing street art aesthetics with the careful chemistry of color and light, by artist Marco Guglielmino. Mr. Guglielmino had created a significant amount of neon before working with Wix. Upon seeing the space, however, he decided to create two more chandeliers for the fish-bowl conference room. It took two full days to install the ignited glass in the space.

 

“Getting my work in public view has been a major goal of mine and Wix helped make that a reality,” Mr. Guglielmino said, “The lounge is a great space for people to come in to do their work and having my neon sculptures hanging in the space was inspirational.”

Ms. Malarkey notes, “Artists are, and will continue to be an important part of activities at the Wix Lounge. The most important thing we do to support artists is to give them the platform to create beautiful websites to showcase their art.”

 

Mr. Guglielmino’s work, “Aerial and Light,” is now currently on view at the Krause Gallery, 149 Orchard Street.

 

To keep up with art exhibits and other great events at the Wix Lounge check out www.wixlounge.com and sign up for their newsletter.

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Milliken & Company Puts Full STEAM into the Arts

Posted by Kellyn Lopes
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Milliken & Company has a secret weapon. The chemical, floor covering and textile manufacturer, headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina, knows that the arts encourage innovation and creative solutions—something that has been engrained in the company culture for more than a century, which is why the company was selected as a 2014 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America honoree. (Photo credit: Fountain by artist Harold Krisel, located at the Roger Milliken Center, courtesy of Milliken & Company.)

 

Milliken actively supports STEAM education—a movement that works to integrate the arts into a curriculum comprised of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Several of the design employees and scientists at Milliken serve as advisors for the STEAM Teacher’s Institute, hosted by the Chapman Cultural Center, and many partake in panel discussions about the importance of innovation in art and design in schools and in workplaces.

 

With the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg (TAP), Milliken helps to provide over 40 week-long professional artist residencies each year that align with core curriculum, and sponsors performances of music, dance, theatre and opera in schools throughout Spartanburg County. The company’s desire to connect more students to creative problem solving and strategic thinking has led Milliken to explore replicating the artist residency model with its scientists, furthering the integration of creativity and scientific learning. 

 

Since 1992, Milliken has partnered with Spartanburg School District One to display the winners of its annual district-wide art competition. Milliken has the artwork professionally framed and prominently featured on easels throughout its corporate headquarters. To recognize Milliken’s commitment to student art, School District One created the Milliken Art Gallery in its District Office, placed prominently along the corridor leading to the District Board Room. Cindy Riddle, District One Coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts, states, “The placement of the Milliken Art Gallery is strategic as an indication of the importance of the Arts in District One and the artistic expression that is encouraged in our student-centered district.”

 

In addition, Milliken & Company curates an “Innovation Gallery” in its Customer Service Center at its company headquarters—a creative visual storyboard of the company’s history, values, and legacy. A virtual gallery is available here. In-person tours of the galleries in Spartanburg and Shanghai are often made available to local students.

 

“Innovation, art, and design are the heart of our corporation, and are inherent in our training… Communities with thriving arts programs are proven to exude stronger and more vibrant cultures—and dare to ‘do good’ for the world,” said Joe Salley, president and CEO of Milliken & Company. “The arts open our minds to the seemingly impossible and help us think with fresh perspectives, which is what our nearly 7,000 associates worldwide do every day to bring the Milliken spirit of innovation to life.”

 

For more information on 2014 BCA 10 honoree Milliken & Company, visit Milliken.com.

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Socrates Sculpture Park Means Business in Midtown

Posted by Caleb Way
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Socrates Sculpture Park’s Fact of the Matter exhibit closed this past Friday after its four-month run in the 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery. The unique Manhattan display featured the work of nine sculptors as they explored the relationship between material and artist.

 

This relationship, however, was not the only one on display. Jones Lang LaSalle, who manages this space, has solidified a longstanding commitment to the arts through its work in this lobby gallery. They sponsor four exhibitions each year – providing a platform for local arts and cultural organizations to highlight their work and expand their audience.

 

In the case of Socrates Sculpture Park, located in Long Island City, the partnership with Jones Lang LaSalle increased accessibility while reflecting Socrates' rich history and commitment to presenting large-scale artworks in the public realm. On the other hand, the employees and clients that pass through this space every day are exposed to a creative expression of arts and culture in the workplace. This partnership, and others like it, brought vibrancy to a setting that many employees spend a majority of their time, played a role in inspiring creativity, and blended two worlds that may have never crossed paths otherwise. 

 

Read more about the Fact of the Matter exhibition here.

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Beck's Beer's Green Box Project

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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Continuing its historic commitment to the arts, Beck’s Beer (distributed in the US by Anheuser-Busch) has been sponsoring a globally connected augmented reality art gallery since 2011, an initative known as the Green Box Project. The Project is a global fund established to inspire, celebrate and financially support independent talent in art, design, music and fashion. Throughout the Project's 3-year duration, Beck’s will fund and showcase works by over 1,000 individuals from around the world. Each work will be housed in a green box  and will be permanently displayed in the Green Box Project virtual gallery.

 

With arts funding dwindling around the world, Beck's recognizes that business support for the arts is more necessary than ever. Click on the following video to see an overview of the Green Box Project with testimonials from the project’s designers and artists.

 

 

Beck's Green Box Project - Overview from Beck's Green Box Project on Vimeo.

 

For more information on Beck's Green Box Project, visit Becks.com.

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Coffee Connoisseurs Give a Jolt to Philly Neighborhood

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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Coffee Connoisseurs Give a Jolt to Philly Neighborhood

Future home of the Coulter Street Supply Co. (Photo credit, coulterstsupply.co.)

 

Germantown, northwest Philadelphia is an area rich in historic sites and beautiful buildings from the colonial era. Yet despite its charming architecture and tree-lined streets, the neighborhood has felt hard-knocks and been in transition for some years. Two small businessmen with a vision (and a strong cup of coffee) aim to be among the pioneers to resurge this community to the height of its glory.

 

Slated to open in mid-July, Coulter Street Supply Co. will be an espresso bar, commercial space and rotating art gallery located in the heart of Germantown. Co-owners Tim Walkiewicz and John Burke designed the space to connect the community through their passions—arts, cycling and coffee. The pair hopes that the space will be a vibrant addition to an area in need of it.

 

The vision is threefold: The former corner store will host a gallery space in front, showcasing young and established artists from Philadelphia and beyond. The front room will also double as a commercial space called “Duffed Out” that will purvey books, art, design and ciclismo, and become a site for a network of connected artists, cyclists, photographers, designers and graffiti writers. The pièce de résistance will be the 8-seat coffee bar area in the back which will feature, as a centerpiece, a high-end La Colombe espresso machine, creating the perfect salon for arts and cycling aficionadi.

 

"We're hoping our love of traditional espresso and coffee, cycling, sign work, art and design can bring new people into our neighborhood," said Walkiewicz, "as well as provide some really good coffee to all our neighbors who live and work here… We want to be that bridge that brings people from other parts of town to our neighborhood. We want to show people who haven't been here that, yeah, this area is rough around the edges, but it's beautiful here—the history, the architecture, the trees, the people. We want to celebrate all of that."


Be sure to check out the progress of the Coulter Supply Co. pARTnership at coulterstsupply.co.


Inspired to connect to your community through your own small business pARTnership? Be sure to download our tool-kit “Creating pARTnerships with Small and Midsize Businesses” to learn how to tap into these opportunities and develop lasting and mutually beneficial partnerships!

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