Met/Gal Creates Distinct Works of Art for Commercial and Residential Properties
Mia Abigail Baxter’s collective of artists use their work to tell the cultural narrative of local companies
By Laurel Miller
Photos by Impressive Spaces Photography
When Met/Gal was founded in 1988, the art advisory firm’s primary account was American Campus Communities. At the time, the corporate world was entrenched in “cubicle culture,” and brand messaging was more about snappy slogans (“Just Do It!”) than storytelling.
Today, met/gal is responsible for commissioning, curating and placing everything from paintings, murals and textiles to woodcuts, sculpture and handcrafted tiles in some of the nation’s premier commercial and high-end residential properties, including Austin Realty and Q2.
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Current owner Mia Abigail Baxter purchased met/gal in 2010. Having shifted her career focus from law school to design, she’d returned home to Austin while waiting for the new semester to start at New York School of Interior Design. She took a part-time administrative position at met/gal (then Metropolitan Gallery), but when her employer decided to sell, Baxter jumped at the opportunity, with encouragement from her family.
Baxter comes from a long line of lawyers and entrepreneurial artists. After purchasing met/gal, she immediately began widening the client base to include the commercial market sector along with high-end residential.
“Previously, the company had only existed as a logo,” says Baxter. “I knew we needed to share our passion for art and what the met/gal partnership could bring to the architecture and design community.”
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What’s immediately apparent in talking to Baxter is that met/gal goes far beyond just hanging pictures on walls.
“We provide turnkey service, from sourcing and commissioning artists to framing and installation, but the art itself is there to tell a story, the cultural narrative of a brand,” she says. To achieve that, approximately 90% of the works are commissioned pieces created by 20 to 25 artists per project. The work, says Baxter, needs to go beyond mere aesthetic.
“It’s our mission to create meaningful and intentional collections while also providing a platform for artist growth.”
Met/gal works with artists globally, but Baxter finds gratification in tapping diverse local talent. The company’s active artist research led to the discovery of well-known Austin artists like Sophie Roach, Josef Kristofoletti, Santiago Escobedo and Christina Moser. Increasingly, met/gal has seen interior design firms intentionally wanting collaborations with local artists, which delights Baxter. As an advisory firm, she and her team strive to show the humanity behind their artists, so they’re not reduced to “paintings on a wall,” says Baxter.
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“There’s cultural currency left on the table when clients don’t take advantage of sharing the story,” she adds. To help with that narrative, met/gal has worked with clients like Google in documenting artists’ collections through a virtual QR code tour.
“Creating simple programs our clients can use in the promotion of the artists they’ve invested in makes the whole intention of buying local sincere,” says Baxter. “It’s more than just the one-time purchase — it’s a form of advocacy for that entire community.”