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September 22, 2014

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Meet an art world matchmaker

Summerlin resident provides hotels and other businesses with paintings, prints

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Leila Navidi

Carol Spiegel owns an art consultancy company that helps clients fill walls with paintings and prints. She leaves the actual hanging, though, to other professionals.

Carol Spiegel loves art galleries. She used to own one.

Today, she’s got thousands of galleries around the country — a few dozen paintings here, a dozen there.

At the Bellagio Spa Tower, for instance, she arranged for 20 originals — and 600 prints made from them — to hang in 48 suites. They’re displayed above beds, in the bathrooms, next to the armoires, in the living rooms, a dozen or so pieces per suite. (Ka-ching.)

Spiegel is an art pusher, a kind of matchmaker between emerging artists and the people who want to buy dozens, or hundreds, of paintings and prints at a time. Think doctors’ offices, executive suites, cruise ships, corporate lobbies, conference rooms and hotels. Lots of hotels.

Spiegel, a New Yorker who moved to Summerlin 12 years ago via Southern California, owns The Art Group, an art consultancy company. You’ve got walls? She’s got paintings — original works that artists have turned over to her on consignment.

Clients — or their designers or architects — show her the color schemes of the rooms that will be decorated — the walls, trim work, wall coverings, furniture, upholstery, carpeting, tile. She matches them with paintings by artists she represents (colorful, generic abstracts are the most popular). If the client likes them and they’re within the budget, a deal is struck (and if there are a lot of rooms to fill, such as a hotel, the client also buys the right to make prints off them).

The most challenging clients to deal with, she says, are law firms.

“Lawyers can’t agree,” she says. “You sit in a board room showing the art to five or six different partners, and each one thinks he’s very important and his opinion is the most important opinion in the room. That can be difficult.”

On those occasions, she suggests that the office manager and the managing partner work with her to make the decisions.

“And then we come back with a big presentation for the other partners and they say, ‘That’s not what I would chose.’ So you just start again. It takes a lot of patience.” In this particular case, the paintings were too abstract.

“In the end, we did a combination of softer abstracts and transitionals,” with the partners hanging what they most liked in their own offices.

Spiegel doesn’t hang the paintings and prints; there are companies that specialize in installing them (and, in the case of hotels, hanging them so securely that they can’t be lifted off the walls by wannabe art collectors without taking the walls with them).

Hanging paintings is another skill set. Hotels tend to have templates — how high to hang it above the bed, the desk, the toilet.

At the Spiegel home, there is no template.

“My boyfriend is 6-foot-4 and I’m 5-foot-4, so whenever he hangs something, I ask him, ‘Why are you hanging it so high?’ And he says, ‘That’s my eye level.” And I say, ‘Wait! I’m in the business, and I know it’s got to go lower.’ But he doesn’t care. He wants it higher.”

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