Graham Wood is senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Art of Real Estate
Lori Judge supports budding artists in her community by turning her brokerage's building into a public art project.
July 24, 2015
One of the ways you're supporting the artistic community in Savannah is by turning the exterior of your brokerage's office into a public art display. Why is that an important goal to you?
I am personally interested in visual arts, and it's been a passion of mine since before I can remember. Savannah has a huge creative community, mainly due to the Savannah College of Art & Design. They are a big resource for our community in so many ways. A lot of SCAD graduates end up staying in the community post-graduation, and we also see a lot of artists who relocate to our area. I want to ensure that they stay in Savannah and we don't lose them to major art markets like New York, Los Angeles, or Miami.
The art on your building is artist Jamie Bourgeois' Mossterpiece, a mural made of actual growing moss. Why use your building in that way?
I have used my building in the past for public art for Savannah-based artist Katherine Sandoz and started the Judge Realty Permanent Art Collection in 2014, which now has around 30 pieces in the collection. For Judge Realty's 10-year anniversary this year, I wanted to use my building as a platform for both public art and sustainability. I recently added solar panels to my building, and we now run on 100 percent solar power. Using my building facade for this project was a no-brainer — it merged my business and personal beliefs in one. It provided a movement to get others in the community thinking of how they can add solar to their properties. I also want the community to see that we can have public art in the historic district and do it in a tasteful way that goes along with our high standards. By using my building as a platform for public art and sustainability, it has sparked these conversations that weren't necessarily taking place before.
Using moss to create art is rather unique. Is there any significance to using moss? Does the piece speak to your values as a real estate professional?
Moss graffiti is one of the newest forms of public art. It is completely eco-friendly, and as someone pointed out to me, this medium provides a wonderful performance art by Mother Nature. It definitely coincides with my passion for sustainability. I was one of the first eco-brokers in Savannah. I have always been concerned about our carbon footprint and leaving a sustainable environment for my child and future generations.
How does this art project help you better tap into Savannah real estate?
I have been helping artists locate buildings and walls to use for public art for years. Most of these properties were dilapidated or vacant, but the artists took them and turned them into beautiful works of art.
This project highlights the greenness of your building — both figuratively and literally. Are green real estate features becoming more popular in Savannah?
Savannah has always been green in the sense of nature, with our amazing live oak trees, 23 public squares, Forsyth Park. There is nothing greener than to reuse and recycle a 200-year-old historic property. Now most of our building standards include energy efficiency. So Savannah has always been ahead of the curve. In the last few years, the city has installed electric-car charging stations, which encourages and incentivizes people to purchase EV. I bought my first EV (a BMW i3) last year. Of course, we as business and property owners need to do our part and go the extra mile. Solar is one of those resources we can easily transfer to.
How do local artists help you sell Savannah as a great place to live, and what impact are they having in your community right now?
Savannah is already a naturally beautiful city, but I believe artists bring a certain quality and aesthetic to our community. They help engage a larger organic participation, and the city's residents have embraced their progressive visions and often adopted some of their idealizations. My hope is that one day Savannah will become an art destination.