May 09, 2012
Brandt-Roberts Galleries opened in 2010, but not before a long and interesting road traveled by owners Michelle Brandt and Bryan Roberts. They are a duo with an unlikely story, yet their chemistry as business partners and friends is obvious within 5 minutes of speaking with them.
Bryan Roberts, a Virginia Tech alum with an undergraduate degree in Geology and a graduate degree in Micropaleontology and Michelle Brandt, an Ohio State alum with an undergraduate and graduate degree in Art Education somehow sit together in a High Street gallery going on 2 years of successful operation. After Roberts left his job in petroleum geology to focus on his own art (he still paints today), he opened a gallery of his own in Bexley, Ohio where he was sole proprietor for 15 years. This is where Brandt and Roberts first met; Michelle Brandt was an employee of Bryan Roberts. At this point, they both knew that they worked well with one another, but it would be quite some time before it all came together. A few years later, Brandt moved on to manage Katherine Gallery, which not-so-coincidentally is the current location of Brandt-Roberts Galleries.
Over the course of the next several years, the two had talked about one day working with each other again. When Katherine Gallery closed shop, “the stars aligned” as Brandt put it, and both she and Roberts knew this was the location that could support what they wanted in a gallery. The location at 642 N. High is the perfect size to house a collection of art that is accessible to everyone. In fact, Brandt explains that this is one of the big philosophies of the galley: accessibility. They want any person to feel comfortable enough to simply walk in and see a price point that is reasonable without compromising quality. In the May 2012 exhibit, “Mid-Century Modern: Works from the Eames Era”, there are pieces that range anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to $13,000.
May’s exhibit will be featuring art and design from the 1950s and ‘60s. The mid-century modern movement was a striking era for art and design. It encompasses very clean, sleek lines and abstract expressionist paintings. It really was an era of its own. The husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames is largely responsible for the movement in design. This movement is seeing a resurgence in today’s design world and is even featured in TV shows like AMC’s popular drama Mad Men.
The Brandt-Roberts Galleries exhibit will also feature paintings by artists like the late Robert Knipschild. This era has been gaining popularity over the past decade or so because it is modern looking, yet lacks the stigma of pretentiousness sometimes attributed to the modern style; it is something anyone would love to have in their home. To this effect, both Brandt and Roberts agreed that they never have anything in their gallery that they would not personally put in their homes. Being able to say this does not come without dedication. Roberts explains, “we’re never not working.” This is not to say that the job is overbearing in their lives, but that whether they are actively looking for pieces to feature in their gallery or are just on vacation and have an eye open for an artist that piques their interest, they are always looking for something new and exciting. “I was born to be a treasure hunter. Whether it’s searching for oil in my previous career or searching for an oil painting now,” Roberts says.
This “treasure hunting” mentality has made it possible for Brandt and Roberts to have new pieces in weekly and a normal stock of around 200 works of art. But finding great art is not just for the gallery owners. Brandt explains, “the visual arts has just enriched my life so much and I want to share that with others.” The gallery really is a one-of-a-kind place where everyone feels welcome to come browse, talk with the owners, and hopefully find a piece that is impossible to leave without.
Interestingly enough, the Eames exhibit this month seems to mirror the Brandt-Roberts Galleries in their apparent philosophies on art. Charles Eames once said, “Art resides in the quality of doing; process is not magic.” Brandt and Roberts seem to hold this idea to be very true. Nothing at the gallery just happens. It comes from the quality of work by the owners in finding new pieces and helping the customer find exactly what he or she is looking for.