Name: Martha Weidmann; Molly Casey
Age: Martha, 36; Molly, 35
Marital status: Martha, married to Robert; Molly, married to Ryan
Children: Martha – Emmalou, 9, William, 8, Rem, 3; Molly – Lillian, 6, and Fitzgerald, 3
Career: Martha – co-founder and CEO of Nine dot Arts; Molly – co-founder and studio chief
Hometown: Martha – Mobile, Alabama; Molly – Denver
Where do you call home today? Martha – Stapleton; Molly – Cook Park
What surprises people about you?
Martha: Generally, people are surprised about our age and life situation. A lot of company chiefs are male and older. Also, we are married with families, which is unusual in the art business. Fun fact, I used to play pro football for the WNFL.
Molly: People are also surprised that we did this on our own and without any outside capital. Fun fact, I can do the splits.
How do people describe you?
Martha: Determined, creative and approachable.
Molly: People describe me as loud, energetic, friendly, funny and passionate.
Who do you most admire?
Martha: My grandmother, Emmalou, because of her resilience. She has been through so many things and bounces back every time. She is a survivor and always has a positive attitude.
Molly: My mom and dad, who gave up everything to move out here knowing no one and working for non-profits. They are such hard workers who are also very real and were always there with us. They even supported me getting an art degree.
Martha and Molly: We both had people in our young lives that supported us whatever we dreamed up.
Favorite Denver metro restaurant?
Martha: For something quick, Tacos Acapulco on Colfax; for date night Bistro Barbes in Park Hill.
Molly: Domo, in downtown Denver next to the Auraria Campus.
What was the last great book you read?
Martha: I’m in the midst of reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill, to my kids.
Molly: The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls.
What is your biggest fashion faux pas?
Martha: An Alabama sweatshirt. Roll Tide.
Molly: Shorts in Venice. Italian women don’t wear shorts.
What is one thing that you absolutely can’t live without?
Martha: My husband.
What was your last major purchase?
Martha and Molly: Our new office building in LoHi about a year ago.
What gadget can you not live without?
Martha: The three lunch boxes that have to get distributed every day.
Molly: My electric toothbrush.
What are your hobbies?
Martha: My husband and I like to call it urban hiking. We like to discover new parks or open spaces in the city. I also really enjoy thrift shopping.
Molly: We love hiking, or as we describe it to the family, a nature walk. We also snowshoe and ski. I also love to cook. We do a lot of art in the house as well.
What is your most memorable Colorado experience?
Martha: Backpacking behind Leadville to find a hot spring, when we came upon what turned out to be a nude hot spring. When we tried to go in with our swim suits, the Colorado locals told us that the material in the swim suits would destroy the water. We believed them and went in naked.
Molly: Over this last summer, I was in Vail with my mom and my kids canoeing at Piney River Ranch. Suddenly a moose appeared out of the woods and took its morning swim right in front of our canoe.
What one word describes Coloradans to you?
What is your favorite spot in Colorado to visit?
Martha: Telluride. It’s not too crowded and so beautiful in both the summer and winter.
Molly: State Forest State Park, particularly the yurts at Never Summer Nordic.
What took you down this career path?
Martha: Really, it was following my heart. In many ways, I feel like the job picked me. I followed my passion.
Molly: I grew up surrounded by art work. My mom is a potter, my grandparents were both painters. Sitting in class at CU Denver, Jette Braun gave a guest lecture about corporate art consulting. She and Maeve McGrath offered me a position at their corporate art consulting business, McGrath and Braun.
Are either of you drawn to a particular style of art?
Martha: Being in this role, my exposure to contemporary art is so vast, it’s impossible to pick one. In school, my concentration was photography. My favor artist was Imogen Cunningham because she was one of the first women photographers and was able to practice her craft for almost eight decades.
Molly: I may be drawn to certain styles, but in this business, you see so many different types you really start to appreciate so many styles. But I can tell you one of my favorite artists is the sculptor Louise Bourgeois.
Is there a particular art you must have for your own personal living spaces?
Martha: Art by people we love and know and that we have a personal connection with.
Molly: We have art from the kids everywhere. But we have to purge often so we keep the best stuff up.
How does art enhances a business?
Martha: Art increases productivity in the business up to 15 percent. Art also engages employees to be part of the business and increases their creativity. It is also a give-back opportunity for businesses to contribute to the local community.
Molly: I’d add that it humanizes the space. Studies show it also reduces stress.
What are the most important factors in selecting art for a business?
Martha and Molly: The most important factor is the match between the mission, brand and the goals. The artist needs to be in sync with the goals of the business. Of course, everything you bring in must be high quality.
How much of what you do is work with existing art rather than creating or commissioning new work?
Martha and Molly: Forty percent is commissioned and site-specific for that particular job. We buy about 60 percent of existing work but specifically for a project.
How do you locate established artistic talent suited to your clients’ needs, one of your specialties?
Martha: One thing that can’t be underestimated is that we have been working in this field since college. It takes a lot of time to learn the practice. You have to know how to find it, where to find it and how to match it. We collectively know about 20,000 artists around the country. We and our app (dotfolioart.com) are living repositories of data and art in the community. Also, never underestimate who you are talking to. You can find great talent everywhere. For example, our FedEx driver is an amazing illustrator.
Molly: Artists also find us. We get submissions from around the world and word of mouth has been really positive for us as well. We are active in the MFA and BFA college programs in Colorado and around the country and we can find emerging talent that way. We need to listen to our clients first to see what we need. That is the basic starting point.
Do you have a favorite piece or collection that you have placed?
Martha: I focus on the operations side now. However, prior to that, one of my favorite jobs was the Crawford Hotel at Denver Union Station. It was a revolutionary shift in changing downtown Denver and we could reach so many people in that space. It is really a great mix of combining the past, present and future of Denver.
Molly: Working with the Denver Theater District to bring Shantell Martin to create a contemporary mural for an entire block of sidewalk on the grounds of the Convention Center. It helped changed people’s daily commute. It’s a great example of art changing peoples’ everyday lives.
Is there something special you look for when finding original art?
Martha and Molly: There are two things that make artwork exceptional. The passion of the artist and the quality/craftsmanship of the artist.
Is it more art-specific or space/business specific?
Martha and Molly: Both. You can’t solely focus on one component because the entire project will fail. The artistic merit is critical, but it must match the space. It must be specific, interesting, and maybe a little provocative.
What is the most difficult aspect of your business?
Martha: Staying focused on us finding the right matches.
Molly: There is not enough time. I want more time to meet artists and execute projects.
Tell me about what art you focused on for your new office space?
Martha and Molly: We don’t have any art that we own. It rotates through on a daily basis. We get to look at new art every day.
Where do you hope your business will be in 10 years?
Martha and Molly: Our hope is in 10 years we have offices all over the country. We have 35 to 40 employees. We have built our app (dotfolioart.com) to a virtual studio for artists, clients and curators. We have made our business accessible where businesses and artists collaborate on a daily basis.
Scale it down for a second. How can the average CE writer improve his living space through art?
Martha: Buy your art from real artists. Not from IKEA or Target. A real living artist.
Molly: If you see something you love, buy it.
Scott S. Evans is graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia School of Law and is a father of two, a business litigation attorney, writer and high school lacrosse coach living in Centennial. He has freelanced for various newspapers, magazines, journals and academic publications including the Wall Street Journal and The Military Law Review.
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