Shaping the Art of the Deal
October 1, 2008
Jim Rennert has found that determination and persistence are ingredients for success in athletic, artistic and business endeavors. Before becoming an artist, Rennert was a BYU wrestling scholarship recipient who later worked in business arenas such as sales, investment banking and stock brokering. “I had always visualized business as a wrestling match–fight for the sale, then fight to get paid,” he says.
So, in his later days as an artist, when real estate developer Tom Lloyd asked him to create a sculpture for the lobby of Salt Lake’s Union Park Center, he cast a sculpture of two men dressed in suits who were wrestling, titling it “A Deal’s A Deal.” “Tom loved it,” Rennert recalls. Lloyd was the first of many collectors who treasure sculptures from Rennert’s “Suits” series, which embodies the concept of sports as a metaphor for the competitive nature of business and life.
“What’s helped me the most is what I learned in my athletic pursuits–and that is to stay in the game,” he says. “If you quit, you never reach the end of the road and don’t see the reward that was potentially yours.” Along with enduring, “In business, you have to be competitive. The idea of taking on tremendous odds, moving forward in spite of everything and succeeding is very intriguing to me,” says Rennert.
Rennert’s works symbolically create scenes that take place in business every day–taking risks, making contacts, meeting deadlines, aiming for goals and grappling with conflict. For instance, “Walking the Tightrope” depicts a man balanced on a high, thin, edge of a vertical monolith, while “Corner Office” portrays an executive poised at the top of a tall, steep flight of stairs. “Networking,” a work in progress, renders a man casting a fishing line in hopes of achieving a connection. “Business has become the sport of a lifetime for many people,” Rennert says. “I am trying to depict the people that are out there working to make something happen despite the risks and challenges. In business, you face all kinds of obstacles. It’s a matter of working through them until your vision reaches fruition.”
In developing his own career, Rennert learned first hand the realities of uncertainty and determination that are inherent in business. He once headed for a Boise art show with only the gas money to get there. He slept in his booth and ate from the hospitality tent. “I was so hungry while I watched people walk past with their corn on the cob,” he recalls. When he sold no sculptures in three days, the festival refunded his admission fee.
Rennert originally sculpted children, skiiers and winter pieces, but later followed his sculpting assistant’s advice to pursue the “Suits” concept with a continuing body of work that he could submit to galleries. Today, his sculptures are represented in galleries from Nantucket, Mass. to Palm Desert, Calif., and are housed in office locations such as the Millrock Park business campus and Union Park Center in Salt Lake City.
“Certain collectors believe in what I do and have been extremely supportive,” he says. He was also recently elected a member of the prestigious National Sculpture Society in New York City. “I feel very lucky,” he says of his continuing success. “To actually find an audience and have my work appreciated, which put me in a position to create more work and develop the series further, is something I’m very grateful for.”