Arts and business news from around the country.


Joe Ritchey Receives Recognition for his 2015 BCA Honor by Virginia State Senator Janet Howell

Posted by Jessica Gaines

At a reception hosted by the Initiative of Public Art – Reston (IPAR), IPAR founder Joe Ritchey, was presented with a Resolution for his 2015 BCA 10 award for the vision and commitment to the arts associated with his firm Prospective, Inc., a one-person commercial real estate brokerage and consulting firm in Reston, VA.



Mr. Ritchey was presented with a Resolution from State Senator Janet Howell and Delegate Ken Plum.


Prospective, Inc. has worked on large-scale mixed-use developments in Fairfax County for more than 30 years. The Arts Council of Fairfax County says the thriving arts scene in Reston Town Center is part of Prospective’s brand and integrated into marketing and business development activities.  Ritchey is the driving force behind Prospective’s commitment to the arts. He has donated more than $1.1 million over the past 23 years to arts-related nonprofit organizations.


Congratulations to Mr. Ritchey and Prospective, Inc.


For more information on the national BCA 10 Awards presented by Americans for the Arts on October 5 at a black-tie gala at the Central Park Boathouse in New York City, visit


(pictured above from left: Joe Ritchey, IPA President and Chair Maggie Parker, State Senator Janet Howell, and Delegate Ken Plum)


Building Up, Building Art

Posted by Jessica Gaines
Building Up, Building Art

Many real estate developers have come to see the value in including art in buildings and spaces. Opportunities to bring not only art concepts but also artists into the early stages of projects can lead to developments that are brilliantly unique and inclusive. These developments support great design, inspirational concepts, and more importantly, local community.


In recent years, with real estate development planning, there’s been a strong lean towards artist residencies, community listening sessions, and ideas to turn neglected properties into town centers. With increased access to and desire for art among residents, real estate developers have become more tuned into the benefit of these partnerships. In Creative Exchange’s “Lessons from RARE: Engaging Artists in Real Estate Development”, several points are offered about these artist-development relationships:


  • Give artists the freedom to create open-ended work
  • Provide practical support for creative engagement
  • Allow for chance encounters and unexpected shifts


When incorporating the points above, sometimes having a third party or “translator” involved in the process comes out as a win. In Orlando, the Novare Group partnered with curatorial team, Dashboard, to produce 1,400 cubic feet of vibrant color at their luxury high-rise apartment community, SkyHouse Orlando. The eye-catching artwork,  designed by The Young Never Sleep, showcases some of Central Florida’s most exotic and native plant life in exaggerated colors for a striking and education street-scape experience.


In addition to the points above, the potential of new artist-developer driven projects is a chance for blossoming and building a legacy. In Miami Jorge Pérez, 2015 BCA 10 Leadership Award winner and chairman of The Related Group, has built a legacy and continues to transform Miami into an international tourist and cultural destination with beautiful and inspiring developments. The Related Group’s mixed-use building, the SLS Brickell showcases a ”drip painting” style mural on its eight-story parking garage that gives artist Markus Linnenbrink 40,000 square foot of surface to cover. 


Investment in brilliant collaborations will continue to build brilliant, vibrant communities where art and business are both victorious.



Photo credit: Paper Gardens,


The Artistic Star of Starwood Capital

Posted by Chris Zheng

What kind of mind is needed to create and manage a multi-billion dollar real estate, hotel, and debt empire like Starwood Capital Group? A creative one.


Founder, chairman, and CEO Barry Sternlicht is not only a defining member of the international business community, but also an inspired artistic force, deliberately incorporating a visual vocabulary in each corporate endeavor.


Richard LeFrak, the chairman and CEO of LeFrak, which has conducted several deals with Starwood, described Sternlicht’s unique creative focus: “we would go into the building, and I wanted to talk about the elevators—he wanted to talk about the palm trees. But he’s a very visual person. That’s what jumps out at him.”


Dissecting complex commercial agreements through creative means and designs puts Sternlicht in a league of his own. This methodology is a driving force in the risks that Starwood is known for taking, carefully navigating a volatile economic landscape. In a discussion with Rusty Gregory, the chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Mammoth Resorts, during an acquisition meeting over the ski resort, Sternlicht pulled out a pad and began to draw hotel designs. “He put hotels on the base [of the mountain] with notations- the number of hotel rooms. Then there were the associated amenities, the spa, the restaurant,” said Gregory. “I’ve been in business a long time—I’ve never seen anyone express it like this. In a very organic way. More like a designer would do it.”


Indeed, in each facet of business, Sternlicht acts as a designer, whether that means drawing ideas on paper to use in negotiations or critiquing landscaping designs for his newest hotel. Additionally, his artistic business acumen reaches beyond real estate. As a sitting member of Americans for the Arts’ Business Committee for the Arts Executive Board, he is critical to managing key initiatives in promoting strategic partnerships between the arts and the private sector community. 


Sternlicht embraces this responsibility wholeheartedly: “I’m an artist by nature—I love to paint and draw and sculpt. Last count, I think I was one of two businessmen inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame. I’ve won a lot of awards, but that one’s my favorite one.”

Barry Sternlicht is the engine behind the capital giant Starwood and his vehicle of choice in business is creativity.


Photo: Barry Sternlicht inside of his Greenwich, CT. Photo by Yvonne Albinowski for Commercial Observer.


Q and A: Using the Arts to Reach New Tenants at Orchard Commercial

Posted by Emily Peck
Q and A: Using the Arts to Reach New Tenants at Orchard Commercial


An interview with Joe Lewis, President and Owner, Orchard Commercial


Americans for the Arts is proud to present an interview with Joe Lewis, president and owner of Orchard Commercial—the most comprehensive real estate operations company in Silicon Valley. Joe is responsible for overseeing all regional business activities, providing quality service to its customers, and maximizing profitability for its clients' commercial properties. Joe has over 30 years of experience in commercial real estate as a broker, manager, developer, and owner. Before joining Orchard in 1996, Joe served as executive vice president at Cornish & Carey, directing the property management division in addition to his brokerage practice. In 1988, he was elected Silicon Valley Investment Broker of the Year. He is a member of BOMA Silicon Valley, Institute of Real Estate Management, and NAIOP. Joe serves on the UC Berkeley Fisher Center Advisory Board. Before his real estate career, Joe served as a pilot in the U.S. Navy.


Q) Describe the evolution of the 2665 North First Street project.

In 2006, Orchard Commercial purchased a 30 year old, 120,000 square foot office building in North San Jose. The building was quite neglected and only about 40% leased. The opportunity and challenge was to renovate the building and attract new tenants. The building, while well located, suffered from poor market reputation and very large common areas. A quiet pall seemed to hang over the common area interiors that soared three stories to the roof. “Lifeless” was a word that often emerged in our conversations about what to do with it. One day, the head of our design department said, “This place looks and feels like an art gallery. Why don’t we play to that?” And the journey began.


Q) How do you determine which art pieces to feature?

Our in-house designer saved the day by directing us to San Jose University’s Art Department. Graduating students in the Masters of Fine Arts program were exhibiting their final works as a graduation requirement. Some of them had very large works that were incredibly striking. We hired a recent graduate who had an undergraduate degree in Marketing & Communications and a Masters in Fine Art to become our part time curator. She was tasked to recruit artists from the program to exhibit their works in our building for a 3-month period. Our first exhibit had nearly 50 works of student artists. We held a reception in the building for the artists and everyone else in the community we could think of to invite, including all the real estate office leasing brokers. It all worked so well that we continued with our curator who sourced works from students, faculty, and other emerging artists to create new exhibits each quarter. Some works were sold directly by students and the rotation would start all over again.


Q) How do you think the art feature has impacted the success of this project?

The revolving exhibits and the quarterly receptions changed the reputation of the building. Brokers brought their tenants. The tenants were excited about the exhibits and regularly attended the receptions, creating a new sense of community within the building that was contagious. The reasons that people choose one office space over another are legion. They are usually described in terms of location, amenities, and economics – quantifiable attributes that can be explained in a memo to the board or the boss. However, most buildings on the tenant’s short list will be fairly equal, so there are not many unique reasons to choose one over the other. Most prospects can’t remember which spaces they toured. People finally decide on the basis of feelings–“I love the feel of this place”–to select their new home from several fairly equal choices. Art brought the building to life and it made a huge difference, although the real reason people leased our space remained a bit of an unquantifiable secret.


Q) How has art helped your business connect with the community and/or achieve other business goals?

The surprising thing is how quickly word spread throughout the larger community. We promoted the program with invitations to the receptions but soon organizations were seeking us out as a place to host events because it was so interesting and ever changing. ZERO1, a group that works at the intersection of Art and Technology, selected our building for their opening gala. We hosted political events for the Mayor and other community organizations and causes. If you have space to lease, the more people that visit your building, the better. It worked incredibly well in a world where it is difficult to get anyone’s attention. The lifeless building became fun, approachable, full of life, and fully leased.


Q) In what ways does art intersect with the property management business?

The highlight example was the annual BOMA party mixer with a Mardi Gras theme held in our building. Every property manager, lots of brokers, and most of their vendors were packed into our building lobby. When someone has been to your house, they know who you are. Everyone knew us!


Q) Has art played a role in your development as a business leader?

Our promotion of the arts and artists had made us unique. Business and the arts rarely cross unless the leader is a notable collector of art or philanthropist. I am not a notable collector of art but rather an exhibitor of emerging original art. That is in short supply in the business world. I maintain that if all the art that is in warehouses could be where people work, it would make a real difference in both communities.


Q) What do you love about the arts?

I like the way that art can change the world. Our business is Commercial Real Estate. We are providing space for people to live their work lives. Art can make a remarkable difference in the joy of those work spaces. Many artists are not promoters and their works will never been seen by the public. Giving them a voice on our commercial walls at the beginning of their careers–that could make the difference.


Q) Do you have upcoming projects that feature art?

It is ever challenging to have enough time and money to bring the arts to the marketplace in a meaningful way. Currently we are supporting a project of the San Jose Downtown Association called “Downtown Doors.” High school students have an opportunity to submit their artwork through their teachers to be selected by a committee for publication in an unusual manner. Their work is turned into vinyl canvases and installed on the downtown streets on a variety of side doors and electrical utility boxes. That which was ugly turns into a work of art. Supporters contribute $2,500 to have this installation done and some money returned to the schools for art programs. There have been over 1,300 submissions and $90,000 distributed to schools since the program began. The winners are displayed as posters in a downtown reception at the San Jose Museum of Art. Orchard Commercial had copies of this year’s winners reprinted as posters and placed on display in our building lobby.


Q) Is there anything else you want us to know?

We do not spend a lot of money on this program, but it was something that had to be invented. It is very hard for students or emerging artists to get their works in public view. By putting their works in your public space, you are helping them. People that like the work will want to know about the artist, so a tasteful biography is appropriate as well as a sales price and contact point. Building owners and managers are constantly working to get as many people as possible to view their vacant spaces, so giving these prospects something to see and perhaps a glass of champagne to enjoy during a reception is a great move. It is a win-win proposition for your building, the community, and the arts.


Jorge Pérez: Building a Cultural Legacy

Posted by Jordan Shue
Jorge Pérez: Building a Cultural Legacy

Jorge Pérez, who was honored with the 2015 BCA Leadership Award from Americans for the Arts, was recently featured in a Miami Herald article that highlighted his unwavering support of the arts, and how his business acumen has given him the platform and resources to maintain it. As Chairman and CEO of development company, The Related Group, Pérez has spent a large part of his career driving the transformation of Miami into an international tourist and cultural destination.


However, these days he’s spending more and more of his time focused on his artistic and philanthropic interests, including his sponsorships of Cuban and Argentine filmmakers at the Miami International Film Festival, an artist residency program at the National Young Arts Foundation, and his recent proposal and co-funding of a $1 million program for African-American and African diaspora artists with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


“The worlds of art, philanthropy and business are absolutely intertwined,” said Pérez, who—in addition to funding them, also produces films himself—plans to donate his entire personal art collection to the Pérez Art Museum Miami, where he serves on the board. Pérez attributes his success to being the son of Cuban exiles, and watching his parents lose everything but refuse to give up hope or determination.


Michael Spring, director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, calls Pérez an “arts advocate extraordinaire…Jorge is a natural born leader. He really believes the arts should be for all people. And he is extremely effective.” Read the full article.


Photo: Developer and art collector Jorge Pérez in the garden at his Coconut Grove home, with South African artist Ledelle Moe’s piece “Memorial Collapse V.” Photo by Carl Juste.

Read more here:

Celebrating the BCA 10 in Reston, Virginia

Posted by Stacy Lasner

On November 5, the Initiative for Public Art – Reston (IPAR) in Reston, Virginia, held its annual reception, honoring some of the area’s most dedicated arts supporters and raising crucial funds so that the organization can continue its valuable work of creating a more vibrant, desirable community through the arts.


During the event, IPAR gave surprise recognition to Joe Ritchey, the Principal of Prospective Inc. and Board Chairman and President at IPAR. In October, Prospective Inc., real-estate brokerage and consulting firm, was honored with a BCA 10 award from Americans for the Arts, which recognizes the best businesses partnering with the arts in America.

Americans for the Arts was proud to be a part of IPAR’s event. Jay Dick, Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs at Americans for the Arts and a Commissioner at Virginia Commission for the Arts informed the attendees of Ritchey and Prospective Inc.’s remarkable dedication. Mike Collins, Outreach Director for Congressman Gerry Connolly, also said a few words on Ritchey’s behalf. Several members of the IPAR community, including Executive Director Anne Delaney, had the opportunity to join us at the BCA 10 gala celebration at the Central Park Boathouse in New York on October 6, 2015.

Nominations for the BCA 10 Awards are open now through January 8

Learn more about Joe Ritchey.

Read more about our BCA 10 honorees.

Photo: Joe Ritchey (left) with Jay Dick (right) and the BCA 10 award. Photo courtesy of Anne Delaney.


Art Comes to Coney Island

Posted by Kate Reese
Art Comes to Coney Island

Coney Island – an iconic summer destination best known for its beach and amusement park, will now also be known for its art. This spring, street artists partnered with New York City based real estate development and investment firm Thor Equities to transform an empty lot in the center of Coney Island into the new Coney Island Art Walls. The summer-long project was conceived by founder of Thor Equities and Coney Island native, Joseph Sitt, who hoped to bring arts to the community, help revitalize the boardwalk, and promote economic development.


According to Sitt, “Coney Island has struggled for decades and lost a lot of the sparkle that once drew millions each summer from New York and beyond. In the long term, we aspire to return the luster to Coney and bring it back to being a playground not just for New Yorkers, but for the world.”


Featuring the illustrated works of more than 30 local and international artists, the 50,000 square foot space has murals ranging from the work of local studio artist Jane Dickson to pieces from well-known international artists such as the Belgian artist, ROA. The wide spectrum of artist backgrounds is reflective of the diverse population of beach goers who visit Coney Island’s each summer.


Thor Equities has been involved in several real estate development projects on Brooklyn’s southern-most neighborhood, and feels committed to honoring Coney Island’s past while preserving its future. “Coney Art Walls is the next exciting step in our ongoing plans to help restore the vitality of Coney Island, and build on our successes in the neighborhood.”Sitt believes now is the perfect time for a project of this caliber. “In 2014, Coney Island recorded its best season in decades, with more than 11.45 million people visiting the beach and boardwalk.”


The art walls were curated by Jeffrey Deitch, the former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art and an art dealer in New York. You can see several murals as well ascommissioned works and community walls from renowned artists Shepard Fairey, Daze, Crash, Futura, Lady Pink, How & Nosm, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, and Kenny Scharf.

With the programmatic and promotional help of the Coney Island Museum, the project site was also home to events and music programming throughout the summer, including Coney Smorgasburg, which features 12 diverse food vendors and a bar serving craft beer and wine.


Thor Equities hopes that the impact of Coney Island Art Walls on the neighborhood will endure beyond summertime. This concept is perhaps best captured by the text at the bottom of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s mural titled Coney Island Portraits: "The day before Easter, and the day after Labor Day – people still live here. People die here. People love here."


*Photo by Martha Cooper


BCA 10 Honoree on the Economic Impact of Public Art

Posted by Stacy Lasner
BCA 10 Honoree on the Economic Impact of Public Art

“I believe that a community’s economic vitality and quality of life are directly proportionate to its commitment to and investment in arts and culture. The arts provides a powerful economic return.” – Joe Ritchey, Principal, Prospective Inc.


For Joe Ritchey of Prospective Inc., a one-person commercial real-estate brokerage and consulting firm in Reston, VA that has been selected as a BCA 10 honoree this year for partnering with the arts, having a thriving local arts scene is an essential part of his company’s success and the city’s growth. Not only does Prospective lease office space in Reston Town Center, Ritchey has also been instrumental in transforming Reston Town Center into a vibrant public space with outdoor concerts and public art.


In his recent post on Americans for the Arts’ ARTSblog, Ritchey discusses how public art has helped transform Reston into a place where people want to live and work.


Join us for a webinar on September 9 at 3 p.m. ET to hear Ritchey talk more about public art’s economic return. He will be joined by the Director of the Initiative for Public Art– Reston (IPAR), an organization which he founded.


Learn more about IPAR by watching this video, which was part of "Reston: The Art of Community," displayed at Dulles International Airport in 2014.



Photo: © Initiative for Public Art – Reston.


Meet The Related Group's Corporate Art Buyer

Posted by Brooke LaRue

2015 BCA Leadership Award recipient, Jorge M. Pérez, is an avid collector and supporter of the arts nationally and in south Florida, where his real estate development company, The Related Group, is based. City and Shore Magazine recently interviewed Patricia Hanna, who purchases art for Pérez’s personal art collection and for The Related Group.


After earning her master’s in art history from the University of Miami, Hanna worked at the Lowe Art Museum as an assistant curator, and later at Miami Art Central as the exhibition manager. According to City and Shore Magazine, she is best known for the decade she spent at the Cisneros Foundation, awarding grants to emerging artists.


Hanna joined the corporate world in 2013 when she began working for Pérez. In a year and a half she has doubled The Related Group’s art holdings to its current state of nearly 700 pieces. Now, with south Florida in a “building boom,” Hanna is faced with the challenge of filling each building The Related Group is developing with carefully curated pieces of art. In 2014 alone she spent $10 million bringing art from around the world to Miami and the surrounding area.


Two of The Related Group’s projects include the Icon Las Olas building, which will be focal point of Fort Lauderdale’s skyline, and two Auberge Resorts properties. When complete, the Icon Las Olas building will feature a sculpture garden, which will be curated with the help of Bonnie Clearwater, director and chief curator of NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. “We are developing a building, but we also want to contribute to the cultural growth of the city,” Hanna said.


Read the full interview here.


Photo: Male Torso by Fernando Botero, purchased by Patricia Hanna. From left to right: Carlos Rosso, Jorge Perez and Juan Carlos Botero (Fernando Botero’s son).


Time Equities Partners with Artists in Construction of Lower Manhattan Skyscraper

Posted by Kellyn Lopes

Where can artists, construction workers, and developers work simultaneously?


Time Equities, Inc. (TEI), an international real estate firm, has recently announced an artist-in-residency program in conjunction with the construction of a new residential tower, 50 West. The 64-story building is currently under construction in Lower Manhattan, where developers and construction workers are joined by artists Noa Charuvi, Hugo Bastidas, and Paul Anthony Smith. The artists have been commissioned by TEI, through their program Art-in-Buildings to create paintings that document the construction process in exchange for an honorarium and studio space located near the construction site.

Artist Noa Charuvi says, “I’ve never heard of an artist becoming involved in a skyscraper. You do see that [documentation] in photography, but it’s not common to see paintings of it.”

Art-in-Buildings was created in 2003 by TEI as a way to foster emerging and mid-career artists and to create a more interesting environment for its buildings’ occupants, residents, and guests. The program works to expand the arts audience by promoting artists in non-traditional spaces. Art-in-Buildings includes rotating exhibits and permanent art installations throughout New York City, starting with the Maiden Lane Exhibition Space and the West 10th Window. (Photo credit: One of the many paintings by Noa Charuvi during her residency at 50 West; courtesy of Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal.)

TEI is committed to enriching its properties’ value and aesthetic through art, and is active in numerous arts organizations in New York City, such as the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund, and of course, Art-in-Buildings.  CEO Francis Greenburger is highly passionate about the arts. He founded the Art Omi International Arts Center, a center that hosts artist residencies for visual artists, writers, dancers and musicians, which all three artists at the site are alumni of, as well as a 300-acre public sculpture park in Ghent, New York.  Mr.Greenburger also serves on the board of various non-profit organizations, many of which are arts organizations.

The works produced by the artists during their residency will be displayed in the 50 West sales gallery during construction and some will be installed in the lobby for residents to enjoy upon the completion of the building.

"I thought it would be an interesting environment for an artist to work, to be in dialogue with the construction of the building and how that inspires them," Mr. Greenburger noted. "And we also thought we would install some of this work in the building—'before' and 'after' pictures."


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