For 27 years Eaton Fine Art has been a full-service art consultancy firm specializing in creative project design and art curation for hospitality clients across the globe. The man behind its success is the President and Chief Curator, Terry Eaton. His creativity and passion for art is an integral part of every project. Some of his most notable endeavors include The Phoenician in Scottsdale, The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, and, most recently, Holston House in Nashville.
As a prominent member of the LGBTQ community, Terry is an enthusiastic supporter of charities that make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ people. He and his husband, Robert, make this happen through the work that Eaton Fine Art does. This includes donating all of the framed art that is displayed at Project Transitions, an Austin-based nonprofit serving those with HIV, for their Doug’s House Hospice. Additionally, they have donated the framed art at the AIDS Services of Austin and their Moody Medical Clinic, the Jack Samson Dental clinic, and the Springdale Campus. Eaton Fine Art has been granted a Minority Business Enterprise certification by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, which is of great significance both to Eaton Fine Art and all the people they collaborate with on a daily basis.
Why did you found Eaton Fine Art?
I’ve always had a love for art and all kinds of creative endeavors. At the time the company was founded (27 years ago), I had done a good amount of research and realized that there was a void in a creative way of looking at art for hotels, and so Eaton Fine Art was born!
When did you know that art curating was what you wanted to do in life?
I like to think of it as one of those moments when life comes full circle. When I was a teenager, I used to sell my own art on the streets of San Antonio, and I had my own business cards as a freelance artist. Now, instead of selling my own art, we curate art from other artists across the globe. From my perspective, doing what I do is a joy. The Eaton Fine Art team epitomizes the old cliché that if you love what you do, it really isn’t work. We are very passionate about curating art programs that bring a smile to those who are using the space.
What do you look for when searching for art and how do you select the artists for your projects?
We always keep our minds and eyes open. The idea of what art is has certainly changed since Eaton Fine Art was founded, and that is part of what keeps our job so exciting—art can be so many different things to so many different people. When looking for pieces, what we look for is something that is ultimately going to embody and fulfill the creativenarrative for the project. When selecting the artists, we want to make sure they are able to do that. Many times, we will work with artists that are local to the project, but sometimes we will source artists nationally and internationally. That aspect really depends on the client. What’s most important to us across the board is that when bringing people on to a project we aren’t working with them, we are collaborating with them. That is the ethos of Eaton Fine Art.
What inspires you when you work?
I am inspired by many different things, because of the broad definition of what creativity is. When I travel, I always make the effort to go to museums, and I meet with artists whenever I have the time. I am inspired by everything I see every day, from the colors of the beautiful houses along the highway in Mexico City to the color of the poppies on my drive to work. When you look at the world through a creative lens, there is so much beauty and creativity that surrounds us every day.
What has been one of your favorite projects to date?
Our favorite projects are those in which our clients are true collaborators and allow us to be as creative as we can be. Some recent examples that come to mind are the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Hilton West Palm Beach, and the upcoming Hyatt House/Hyatt Place Indianapolis.
What has been the most challenging project you have done to date?
When we had a client who needed something in four weeks that would normally take four months. We got it done in four weeks!
What would be your dream project?
Our dream project is the next project with any client who brings us to the table and immediately collaborates with us in an open box mentality.
What does receiving the Minority Business Enterprise certification by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce mean for you and your business?
Receiving this honor is a medal of pride for us, both in the LGBT sense and in the minority enterprise sense at large. So many corporations nationally and internationally really value minority businesses and look to bring them onto their projects and into their diversity programs. On our side, we have made an effort to evaluate what minority vendors we are already collaborating with, as well as what new ones we can bring on and start collaborating with at Eaton Fine Art.
How did you first get involved with Project Transitions?
My husband Robert and I had just moved to Austin, and the director called us and asked if we would donate a couple of pieces of art to their new hospice house. As I was out of town, Robert, who has a heart of gold, ended up taking the lead, and as he was naturally very moved by their mission, we ended up donating their entire art program. We have now been involved with the organization for the past sixteen years. Every year Project Transitions does an event called “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” where different households or groups will host people at their home for a fundraising dinner. Robert and I are fortunate enough to count the owners of one of the top restaurants in town amongst our friends, and they have allowed us to collaborate with them for this event for many years. It is a real joy for all of us involved!
How did you first get involved with the AIDS Services of Austin?
We first became aware of the AIDS Services of Austin (ASA) by going to different charity events they hosted. We started to become more familiar with the organization, and when they were renovating their main campus office they asked if Eaton Fine Art would donate a couple of pieces. Again, we ended up donating art to the entire office, and subsequently their Jack Sansing Dental Clinic, the Moody Medical Clinic, and their Springdale Office. Our whole partnership with the ASA has been incredibly rewarding and exciting.
What should people consider when decorating their walls with art?
When Robert and I look to decorate our walls, we want something that inspires us and makes us smile. We have a very diverse and eclectic collection that ranges from antique toys, a couple of Chihulys, Miro, and artists we collaborated with as well.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start investing in art?
Buy something that moves you, whatever that is. If you like street art, find an amazing street artist and invest in them.
Keith Haring started as a street artist! Whether you choose to invest in the blue bloods of the art world or in emerging artists, you should always be moved by what you are investing in.
What projects are you currently working on?
Eaton Fine Art currently has projects all over, from California to Florida and from the Caribbean to New York. We are working on projects that range from city hotels to beach resorts, small and large. It’s a very exciting time for us!