Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, Summer/Fall 2018

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Page 261 of 315

A Client-Centered Approach to Buying Art 260 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 1 8 I nve s t m e n t P i e c e s A b o u n d a t We s t b r o o k M o d e r n G a l l e r y B Y M I C H A E L C H AT F I E L D B rian Westbrook holds a somewhat different view of the business of selling ar t than do many of his colleagues in the field. "You need a house," he says. "You don't need art." That may seem counterintuitive for a man whose livelihood depends on putting paintings on his clients' walls, but it's really a par t of his business philosophy and personal scruples. He views the art he sells as more than just decorative—the words "matches the couch" come up a lot in con- versation with him—to him a piece must have lasting value, or he won't present it to his clients. "You have to love it (the art). It needs to be beautiful," Westbrook avers. "Because who cares who signed it if it's not attractive to you and doesn't make your home look better. But on the flip side, you don't want to be looking at it and knowing that eventually it's going to be basically worth the value of the frame." The Westbrook Modern gallery owner tried other careers before becoming an art dealer, including following in his father's footsteps as a contractor, building homes on the Monterey Peninsula and in Salinas. He also enter tained the notion of becoming an attorney, studying at the Monterey College of Law. After a stint of traveling across the US and living for a time in Australia, he took a position at Photography West and then at another gallery in Carmel. "I knew I was paying my dues," he says. "I always had it in my heart to move up and do what I'm doing now." He was educated on the front lines of the art world, in a town filled then, as now, with art gal- leries of all types. "My first five years in the busi- ness I learned a lot of things not to do," Westbrook recalls. But it wasn't all negative by any means. "I also learned from very capable, productive people." He and his wife Christine purchased the gallery that became Westbrook Modern in 2004. What he's doing now is handling transactions that involve works by some of the world's most famous artists: Renoir, Van Gogh, Calder and Basquiat among others. He has built trust with his clients through his rep- utation as a solid, knowledgeable dealer with good instincts. For instance, he recently sold a painting to a Taiwanese client for half a million dollars. Toland Sand, Viridities, Leaded, non-leaded and dichroic glass, 12 x 12 x 12 inches

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