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Art + Artisans is celebrating 20 years in business this month. Hear from the founders, Mother and Daughter, Jennifer Seay and Debbie Goldgar, as they reflect on their growth as a company and reminisce on past projects that remain meaningful and memorable to this day.

How We Came To Be Art + Artisans

Art was always integrated into their family, yet Debbie and Jennifer never imagined it would become their career. Debbie was an avid art collector running her own PR company while Jennifer worked in marketing and sales. Through an acquaintance with an art gallery in Houston, Jennifer was asked to represent the gallery to corporate clients in Austin. As she networked with artists and expanded her connections, she realized the potential of helping clients select original art that was customized to their brand story.

+ The two knew they always wanted to go into business together, and while sipping martinis at the Brown Bar, the idea struck Jennifer, “You should join my business!” They began scribbling ideas on paper napkins and Art + Artisans was born.

From The Beginning

The past 20 years have proven that art does indeed make you happy, not just for this mother-daughter team, but for all the companies and communities they have brought together through their art installations. 

Since the beginning, Jennifer and Debbie have made it their top priority to truly understand each client’s individual goals and ensure they are met through innovative art selections Over the years, they have had a multitude of incredible stories of working with people who love art, love the process, and love the end product. Happiness is just one of the many benefits art can bring to a space. 

A+A back in the day
Debbie and Jen 2022

Throughout The Years…

The Art “Emergency” 

One of Jennifer and Debbie’s first memorable projects was known as, what they like to call, “the art emergency.” A large firm reached out to A+A in a huge hurry. They practically needed art the next day. Scrambling, Debbie and Jennifer networked to every gallery and artist they knew in Texas requesting any art that they get their hands on to present to the client as soon as possible. 

They rented an 18-foot Uhaul truck and loaded it up with art from across the state!

Once they arrived on site they unloaded the entire truck themselves in the middle of summer, met with the CEO to walk through the possibilities, and then loaded it all back up. Then they were back to the office to get the proposal out that night! They both still recall that as one of the longest days ever! As most entrepreneurs will tell you, when you start a business you do everything, and you do whatever you need to do to get the job done!

The First Big Healthcare Project 

As the business grew Debbie and Jennifer went from calling directly on corporate clients to working with architecture and design firms on their projects. One of their first big healthcare projects was Driscoll Children’s Hospital.

The project expanded their reach into healthcare and was the start of an amazing relationship Page — a 600-plus person multidisciplinary design, architecture and engineering firm with offices all over the world. 

This install took place in 2004 and the connections made remain as strong as ever.

Jen shares, “I am very grateful for the exceptional women I’ve gotten to work with at Page. They helped me get started in this business, have taught me so much along the way, and continue to be an advocate for our company.”
Jen and Team Page

May 2022: Jen makes a visit to the interior team at Page

The First University Project: A major stepping stone

Another monumental memory was their first higher education project in 2008. They were awarded an RFP competing against two other agencies with more experience. If won, this project would take them to the next level. Some time passed since the presentation, then right before Memorial Day, Debbie called the rest of the team, “You aren’t going to believe this! Are you sitting down? We got the job!”

It was a massive project with many complex art installations, including hanging sculptures, exterior sculptures, and monumental pieces of art. This was their first project of that size, which made it an exciting challenge. Upon completion, it opened their eyes to what was possible with projects of that scale — next level, highly impactful public art. Projects like this require a skilled team of professionals and consultants collaborating together to ensure a successful installation and final result. The project was inspiring and exciting. They wanted to do more like it!

What stands out the most about this project was the timing of it.

+ The university had gotten approved for their funding one day before the market crash. If it had been one day later, the job wouldn’t have happened. This project helped A+A survive the recession in 2009. It also helped clarify that diversifying the clients and industries they served was a good business strategy.
SAM HOUSTON STATE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

Fan Favorites

As they gained more resources, expertise and momentum, the projects grew in size, scope and prominence.

The Independent

The Independent is the largest residential tower in Texas. To match the building’s unique architecture, the client wanted art that would make people take a second look, something that was more than what meets the eye. Art selections focused on pieces with texture, movement and dimension. The residents of The Independent were from all over the world, so the A+A team worked with local, national, and international artists to curate unique, original pieces that produced a one of a kind collection.

+ Each of the 58 floors have an original piece of artwork.
The Link at Uptown

The Link at Uptown is a 25-story, Class AA office tower located in the heart of Uptown Dallas, serving as “the link” between Uptown, Victory Park, and Downtown Dallas. The client wanted art that tied to their brand and was like nothing else in Dallas. Art + Artisans looked for artists that would create a piece full of energy and that people couldn’t help but be drawn to either entering the lobby or just walking by the building.

The result was a backlit lobby installation that can be seen from the street, enticing people in to see all the colors and intricacies of the design. The network of interlocking forms that make up this piece highlight the interconnecting neighborhoods of this location. Jennifer shares, “It is so spectacular, I get weak in the knees every time I see it.”
The Link at Uptown

Art That Demands a Response

As projects have grown, clients and visitors are blown away by the final art installations. This has been very evident for The Link at Uptown. The building security guard recently told Jennifer “People are coming into the lobby all day long just to take pictures with the piece.”

The Link at Uptown // The Independent

Together, these two projects have won awards and recognition worldwide.

One of the best reactions to a project reveal was at Texas State University in December 2013. An exterior sculpture piece titled “Fish Bellies” in the first freshman residence that they had built on campus in decades was completed. The installation is interactive and lit by LEDs. Students can climb into the art and press secret interior buttons to change the cadence and colors of the piece. It is almost like a big playground for adults. The goal was to have something that could bring the freshman together to foster community.

At dusk and as soon as it turned on for the first time, the LED worked its way through the big pieces of acrylic and the color lit up against the dark sky. It was as if students appeared out of nowhere. Mesmerized by the piece, they instantly started crawling and playing on it. 

+ Jennifer explains, “This was the vision for the piece! We wanted to bring students together and be an inspiration for starting friendships. To watch that unfold instantly was extremely rewarding.”
Texas State Chautauqua Hall Fish Bellies
Texas State Chautauqua Hall Fish Bellies

Over the years, Debbie remembers most evidently the projects that fostered incredible relationships. One in particular was the UTMB Health Care project located in Southeast Texas. At the time, Hurricane Ike destroyed Galveston Island and all the company’s clinics. They started rebuilding clinics off the island and hired A+A for all 13 clinics. As the relationship with the client was continuous, they had a lot of time to get to know each other and truly see the gratitude this company had for A+A’s help. It always goes back to how you serve people and create connections. This project was such a joy for that very reason.

A Mother-Daughter Duo

Perhaps the most important relationship fostered was the relationship between this mother and daughter. Debbie shares, “It has been incredible to watch the growth of my daughter. Her skills and her intelligence make her a phenomenal CEO. We started this together but she is running with it now!” Jennifer’s projects are now her favorite projects. “I love going to the website and seeing what gorgeous new projects are posted.” 

Jennifer emphasized that growing the business with her mother definitely took their relationship to the next level. She explained, “We know each other’s quirks and how our minds work so it’s easy to see where the other one is coming from. We got to share so many triumphs together. While the losses were hard, we got to be there for each other. There is nobody I trust more to have the company’s best interest at heart than my mom.”

The Difference 20 Years Has Made 

There has been a massive amount of growth for A+A and art as a whole over the last 20 years. Jennifer sees that there is more recognition in society for how humans need art. “We need the connection and joy that art brings. There is a new wave of culture-first thinking. In 2025, it’s predicted that 75% of the workforce is going to be made of Millennials and Gen Zs — culture is important to them. Feeling valued and having a sense of well-being are at the top of their list. Using art to foster that is very important.”

The Vision For The Next 20 Years

Jennifer wants to grow the company and continue to build the greatest team motivated to connect even more communities through art. She wants to push the limits by bringing on even bigger projects and increasing impact. What makes all the hard work worth it is seeing the impact of a finished project. ‘It is a joy for the client, all of the artists involved, the individuals who get to experience the art everyday, and for the A+A team! It is very powerful when you go to an installation and see people’s reactions. It is spreading joy! It is a gift we want to keep giving.” 

To see more projects A+A has completed over the past two decades, head over to our work and browse for yourself! To talk with us about art that connects in your space, inquire here. 

Cheers to 20 years!

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