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BRUSH WITH THE LAWPHOENIX'S REGAL LEGALS ARE WELL-BRIEFED IN THE ARTS

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"It made the artist really feel like they were something, not a flower on the wall," John Armstrong says proudly. Timmerman admits that the attorneys have difficulty remembering the artists' names, and refer to the rooms instead by number or location.

But that doesn't mean they don't respect the artists, he adds quickly. To the contrary. In the decade since the collection was first hung, Timmerman says, "I've watched some of my partners' appreciation for the arts change markedly." @rule:

@body:Jack Brown of Brown & Bain makes no pretense. "My interest in art is entirely inspired by my wife," he says.

While Jack, over 33 years, built a law practice heavy in copyright issues and other matters of intellectual property, his wife, Suzanne, set the pace for art collecting in the Valley.

She and the late Elaine Horwitch, who would later own Horwitch Galleries, began by carting around art in the back of their station wagons, hence the company name, Art Wagon Galleries. The two held "art parties" at private homes, Tupperware-style. Today, Suzanne Brown owns two galleries on Main Street in Scottsdale. She shows mainly "Western contemporary Americana." Suzanne agrees with Jack's assessment of his interest in art--but only to a point. "I really think Jack has a great aesthetic sense. I really do," she says. Over the years, he's developed favorite artists, such as Mir and Kandinski; he has his own strong taste, which sometimes differs from hers.

And, his wife adds, Jack is an avid doodler. Anything framable? "I'm a very harsh critic," Suzanne says. "Other people might think so."

Suzanne has always had a hand in the decoration of her husband's office space. Years ago, she recalls with a laugh, she would--at Jack's request--hang paintings for him when he would relocate. Then he would always switch the paintings around.

When it came to relocating to Phoenix Plaza, which soars above the former site of a Bob's Big Boy restaurant at Central and Thomas, Jack turned most of the task of art selection and placement over to Suzanne and Marley Hedges, his executive assistant. Suzanne and Marley spent a year staging the relocation of the art. It took seven weeks just to hang the work.

Most of the pieces in the collection had been acquired over a 30-year period, but larger works, such as a brilliant cloud scene by Ed Mell, were commissioned.

Unlike that at Snell & Wilmer's office, where the interior design itself competes for attention, the artwork on Brown & Bain's walls is the single dominant decoration. Except, Hedges observes, for the views of downtown Phoenix from the attorneys' offices.

"Every single corner of the office . . . needed a piece of artwork," Hedges says. This led to a sort of pecking order of art placement, in which the biggest roosters get the best art. The grander original works are placed in high-visibility areas, where attorneys and clients travel. Brown's personal office holds cherished original work by Mir. Attorneys have original work or prints in their offices; the paralegals' cubicles have posters.

Every coffee station and photocopy machine is accentuated by a print or poster; so is every rest room, water fountain and telephone area. The accounting department is decorated exclusively with posters, as is the employee lounge, which Jack Brown designed himself in primary colors.

The collection of originals housed in the hallways outside attorneys' offices features whimsical otters and wilderness scenes by Alvin Eli Amason, an Alaskan artist. A firm favorite is Howard Post, who uses light and shadow to create impressionist works.

The lawyers' lounge is filled with more outrageous pieces, not for consumption by the paying public: bright, geometric sculpture, a table shaped like a cow and a larger-than-life statue of a shocking-blue-suited attorney type.

Firm lore has it that the blue man was originally destined for the reception area, only to be banished by a senior partner; Suzanne Brown and Marley Hedges say he was always meant for the private lounge. Another myth: that Suzanne must approve all art that is to hang in personal offices. Absolutely not, she says.

Lynne Adams, recently named a partner of the firm and assigned a different office, says she always hangs the work of her husband, local artist Bob Adams, on her walls. She's considering a display of his work, composed completely of matches, for her new space.

The firm does not make a practice of loaning its work, Hedges says. "Historically, no, it sort of stops here. . . . Insurance poses a problem, you know."

Some of the Brown & Bain collection has, however, been seen outside the office walls, reprinted on invitations and announcements in a deft marketing move. Artist Patti Cramer's "Face the Music," a painting depicting a musical performance, was used to announce the firm's sponsorship of a Phoenix Symphony performance.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at amy-silverman.com.