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Terry Eaton: “We are stronger when we come together”

Having a positive outlook: Today’s pandemic is unlike anything most people have gone through in their lifetime, but we cannot feel down about the situation. We must remain hopeful and positive and understand that this will pass. We have all gone through hard times in our lives and made it out on the other side. […]


Having a positive outlook: Today’s pandemic is unlike anything most people have gone through in their lifetime, but we cannot feel down about the situation. We must remain hopeful and positive and understand that this will pass. We have all gone through hard times in our lives and made it out on the other side. While the end of this seems unknown, staying positive will not only help you now, but it will also help to create positive change for the future.


As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terry Eaton.

As the President and Chief Curator of Eaton Fine Art (EFA), Terry Eaton has curated art programs for hospitality, commercial and healthcare venues for nearly 30 years. Since its founding in 1992, the unrivaled firm has collaborated on art programs for dozens of high profile clients and brands across the nation, including Marriott International, Related Companies, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Host Hotels & Resorts and HRI Properties. Terry is also a prominent member of the LGBTQIA+ community and EFA has been granted a Minority Business Enterprise certification by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I’ve always had a love for art and all kinds of creative endeavors. I like to think of curating as one of those moments when life comes full circle. When I was a teenager, I used to sell my own art at the Starving Artist Fair on the San Antonio Riverwalk, and I had my own business cards as a freelance artist. Fast forward to the time Eaton Fine Art was founded — 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! Now, instead of selling my own art, we curate and produce art collections from other artists across the globe.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The first book is Minding The Store by Stanley Marcus, of Neiman-Marcus. I had the pleasure and honor to invite and host Mr. Marcus to give a lecture at an event I created and coordinated at the University of Texas during my senior year. I asked him to sign the book that evening at dinner. I learned a lot about customer service, taking risks and, importantly, about his passion for collecting art.

The other book is The Art of Happiness by The Dali Lama. I still remember his wisdom-filled words about passion, compassion and happiness which guide me to this day.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

As a business that has proudly been open for nearly 30 years, we have been through hard times before. We must remember that by coming together and supporting one another, we can make it through anything. We are blessed that we can continue to collaborate with our clients to create and manage projects from the comfort and safety of our homes. We will continue to be there for our friends, design firms, hotel brands, and developers with whom we have collaborated with for many years. Coming together like this shows we are stronger when we collaborate together, and we will make it through these unprecedented times.

5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis:

  1. We are stronger when we come together: At Eaton Fine Art, we are always collaborating with each other and our fellow friends and clients. We believe that having creative ideas come together makes for a strong vision and creative possibilities. That is no different now. With this crisis, it is important to remember that while we may feel alone in our homes as we social distance, we are all doing this and coming together, even if not physically, to make a difference for the world.
  2. We can continue to creatively collaborate together even when we are apart: We are blessed that we can continue to work in the safety of our own homes. I realize that this is not the case for all businesses, and we thank all the first responders doing an amazing job keeping us safe. The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit industries of this crisis. With hotels and businesses closing their doors to travelers, it has been hard for many to find positivity in the situation. Eaton Fine Art, in collaboration with PS Design Collective, is excited to spearhead a campaign to engage hospitality leaders and their team members from all fields — Hospitality Smiles. We want to unite all these creatives to sing and perform songs in Zoom meetings, which we will launch on social media platforms. We want the world to know the hospitality industry is always there for them — to help them smile, feel good, and show the love we all share for supporting one another.
  3. We are all facing this together: It is important to remember you are not alone. Even though it may feel easy to think you are isolated from others, now we are more connected than ever. We are all going through the same feelings and struggles as we adjust to the new normal. I find comfort in knowing this.
  4. Connect with people digitally: Now more than ever, it is important to check in on friends and family. With the amazing technology of video conferences, we can easily connect to people all over the globe. It is the perfect time to have a quick chat with a friend whose schedules never line up or get the whole family together in one “room.” Even switching weekly conferences to video make everyone connected and motivated to continue the great work they are doing.
  5. Having a positive outlook: Today’s pandemic is unlike anything most people have gone through in their lifetime, but we cannot feel down about the situation. We must remain hopeful and positive and understand that this will pass. We have all gone through hard times in our lives and made it out on the other side. While the end of this seems unknown, staying positive will not only help you now, but it will also help to create positive change for the future.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

I truly believe art has healing powers, whether you are creating it or surrounding yourself with it. I also believe in the healing powers of being connected with one another, physically or digitally.

Five Steps to Support Those Feeling Anxious:

  1. Surround Yourself with Positive Imagery: When creating a space, I always think about how colors and images will affect the viewer and the guest of a hotel. Like hotels, our homes should offer a sense of peace and comfort. It is important to surround yourself with images and art that brings joy. By surrounding yourself with things that make you happy, you will greatly impact your overall mood and feelings.
  2. Find a Creative Outlet: Everyone needs a way to express themselves creatively whether that be through painting, sculpture, writing, cooking or music. Without a way to freely express how you are feeling, those feelings get bottled up and can create many lasting negative feelings.
  3. Being Present: I support my fellow collaborators, friends and family just by being present. We must really make the time and effort to listen to each other and learn how to help support one another. There is so much distraction in today’s world, but if we all take a moment to slow down and pay attention to the person or task in front of us, we can accomplish great things.
  4. Reaching Out: With all the technology we have available today, it is easy to simply reach out and reconnect with people. It is as easy as sending a text or Instagram share which can make someone’s day, and it only takes a few minutes. We never truly know what people are going through but little personal moments like that can make a huge difference in someone’s day.
  5. Create Moments for Yourself: Everyday Robert and I go on an afternoon walk with our dogs, Zoe, Zorro and Astro. We have made this part of our day because it forces us to step away from work and the news and just be with each other and our fur babies — the most important things in our life. Walking around the neighborhood in Austin, we wave to our fellow neighbors (from six feet away) and escape all the craziness for just a few minutes. It is easy to get bogged down with all that is going on but it is important to remember that it is okay to step away from all the craziness for a few moments.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

There are so many resources available in many facets. When I feel anxious, I remind myself to take a very deep breath…breathe in deeply through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds and then breathe out through your mouth. Visualize a place that brings happiness, whether a beach, at the river or surrounded by old Redwoods. Do that several times and you’ll be surprised how much it helps. Another ole’ trick “Turn that frown upside down.” It’s medically proven that when we smile our bodies produce dopamine which makes us feel better.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

That favorite life lesson came at an early age and from my parents. I was a creative kid, and when I wanted to sew and make pillows and other items when I was between the age of 6 to 7, my father thought I should be doing things like sports or ‘typical guy things.’ My mother (bless her heart) told my father, ‘We should not minimize his creativity, we might have the next Calvin Klein or Christian Dior right here in our son.’ That was a huge lesson for me…never underestimate nor minimize what you can do when you put your mind, heart and soul into something. It was a turning point for me, and for my father, as thereafter he (and, always my mother) were my biggest supporters and cheerleaders as I pursued piano lessons, painting lessons, and dance classes. I reached for what made me smile and for things that fed my creative soul. To this day, I remember that lesson and always embrace and support others in their goals and desires.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

LGBTQIA+ issues are very close to my heart. My husband Robert and I do all we can to support local and national charities that are strong voices in the community. Eaton Fine Art was granted a Minority Business Enterprise certification by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. So many corporations nationally and internationally really value minority businesses and look to include them for their projects and diversity programs. With this recognition, Robert and I use our business to also support initiatives and create a larger impact than if it was just the two of us. Become Involved. Give Back!

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

https://www.facebook.com/eatonfineart
https://www.instagram.com/eatonfineart/

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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