Consultant connects people with that perfect piece of art

GLEN ARBOR – Two years ago, Jody Arens was walking along a Florida beach with her aunt, trying to sort out her life. Though she has a degree in Art History from The American University at the Louvre in Paris, she was making ends meet by cleaning homes and restaurants. Her aunt asked her what she would do if she could do anything. The answer had been brewing for 17 years.

“I would love to sell art,” she answered.

Though she was also affiliated with Synchronicity Gallery in Glen Arbor as a sales consultant since 1995, Arens’ business dream was to go solo as an independent art consultant.

Today that dream is a robust and growing reality, and Arens is northern Michigan’s first art consultant.

Basically what Arens does is make connections. Working with both private and corporate clients, she develops an understanding for their needs and matches them against her library of local artworks. She mostly represents paintings, with a smattering of fine sculpture. By continuously visiting art galleries and meeting artists in their studios, Arens cultivates the myriad possibilities available.

Marion De Vinney, owner of Synchronicity, was one of her greatest supporters for striking out on her own. Arens was being too efficient, consistently selling the gallery out of some of its best art, Arens said. De Vinney presented this as evidence that Arens could be successful in following her dream.

Arens thinks she is the first art consultant in the area mostly because none thought that it could work, including herself.

“I thought it was a joke myself,” she said. Having worked in galleries in large cities, she wasn’t sure all the elements for a successful venture were in place. “When I started, I was extremely skeptical. I was thinking that I’d just do it as an exercise … I’m still kind of in disbelief that it’s taken off the way it has.”

What Arens discovered was that though northern Michigan can be a transient area, the people that come here are serious about it. Though someone might only be up here for the summer, they might just have to have a painting of Pyramid Point to take back with them.

“We’re a very sensory-oriented area for people who love the arts,” she said. This bounty for the senses draws the artists as well as the art connoisseur, creating a nice synergy.

The time is also ripe as the area is becoming more discerning and appreciative in regards to art.

“The cream is rising to the top more. I think the really hardworking artists are starting to be recognized and rightly so,” she said.

Arens has been working as an independent art consultant for a year and a half, and to her surprise success came within months. It was more a matter of business savvy than the whims of fate.

“I was strategic in my entry,” she said. “I decided if I’m going to do this, I’m going to contact the Homestead, the airport, Crystal Mountain… I’m going to knock on the big doors.”

The gutsy strategy worked. Robert Kuras, president of The Homestead, called her back to work on their golf academy project. Within two days Arens pulled together a presentation for him and he purchased about 80 percent of it. The airport told her they had just been talking about needing someone just like her. She sold to two designers who work with Martha Stewart. The list goes on.

“I thought that all of this success would happen within five or six years, not three months,” she said.

She also credits her strong start to her ability to listen to people and intuit from peripheral clues what kind of a piece will harmonize well with them. Her infectious and abundant thrill for art must also be a factor.

“I love studying art. It burns in my brain,” she said.

Arens talks about how her favorite painting can transport her out of the daily grind.

“I can look at that painting and at that moment I’m taken away for a minute and just love it. I’ve had it for four years and it inevitably grants me these moments in time that are absolutely pleasurable,” she said.

These moments are central to her business vision. Arens hopes to help people find their own perfect piece.

For an appointment or consultation, reach her at 231-228-7117. BN