You may know Randy Kessler as a media consultant who appears on major networks to comment on the latest high-profile divorce cases. But you may not know that, for the past 30 years, Kessler has surrounded himself with colorful art and fantastic sports memorabilia.
Upon entering his office, we were escorted into the “paparazzi entrance,” where Kessler hints about top-echelon entertainers and sports figures he has represented and who, too, have walked this hidden path. “I can’t disclose details, but I was involved (one side or another) with Dominique Wilkins, Usher, Michael Jordan, Cardi B,” the New Orleans native says.
When it comes to his process of selecting art, Kessler says, “It’s like the former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography: ‘I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced … but I know it when I see it. …’”
From Dr. Seuss to Peter Max, a tour of Kessler’s perch above the city is a lighthearted affair punctuated by comments on the serious subject of domestic law.
Jaffe: Contrast your home and what we see at the office.
Kessler: The office downtown is 15,000 square feet on two levels. Our Toco Hills house has 5,700 square feet in a transitional style with open spaces and earth tones. I especially like the wide-open kitchen and terraced basement. I loved the house when I saw it and as a sign it was meant to be, the address was the same as my birthday. Many of our pieces are by artists who are from, or who were raised in, Israel. I actually painted a few pieces, but since my wife says they look juvenile, I keep them at our beach home.
Our trees get visits from falcons and hawks — not the sports kind. Home art is more furniture and “wife-influenced.” Being an artist, a graphic designer and former magazine creative director, she gets to decide all things art. Even the light fixtures and furniture are as much art as what hangs on the walls.
Jaffe: You have a lively, upbeat vibe in the office.
Kessler: I would describe my taste as: Modern. Colorful. Simple. Abstract. Agam and Picasso are some of my favorites. David Schluss, an Israeli artist, takes inspiration from Jaffa’s historic churches, temples and monasteries. He now operates out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where his work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, as well as the Tefen Open Museum in Israel. Agam and Picasso are well known also for their use of shapes and color. I bought a nice Agam in Israel. Years later, a client saw it, and had two Agams he wanted me to have. Now all three hang perfectly side by side.
I have horizontal works by Romero Britto built into wide spaces. Britto is a Brazilian, now operating out of Miami, known for his cubism, pop art and graffiti expressing hope, dreams and happiness. In the lobby, we have his “Alive” and our interior stairway has “Hug.”
Perhaps my favorite lesser-known artist is Hawaiian ‘MJ’ Villanueva, whom I met at a festival and fell in love with his work. I have over ten of his pieces. He maintains residency here and in Pearl City, Hawaii. His style represents fusion of the aquatic with spatial universes.
Jaffe: How did you go about collecting what’s in here?
Kessler: Early on in my career, I attended fundraising art auctions. When I saw colorful artwork I liked, I bought it. As we expanded, I would keep a placeholder in my mind for it. I traveled often for the American Bar Association when I chaired the Family Law Section and found art on a trip, like our Dr. Seuss piece, “My Petunia Can Lick Your Geranium.” The gallery owner explained that Dr. Seuss had actually seen two women bickering over whose plant was nicer; and I realized it was a perfect piece for our settlement conference room, where people make similar, dumb arguments. There’s also a Dr. Seuss book, “Don’t Be a Yak,” in which he forces the city to build around him in a spirit of non-compromise. Not good.
Jaffe: You are known for advising clients to settle and stay out of court, versus being confrontational.
Kessler: We have a settlement conference room. More dramatically, we have a courtroom that can be employed for real trials with judges. In a mock format, I may ask a client to take the stand and be subjected to my questioning, where they realize that airing their grievances is not worth a few thousand settlement dollars.
Jaffe: There’s “wall art” then there’s the “real art.”
Kessler: I love seeing bright, colorful art at work, yet the office is 36 stories high with floor-to-ceiling windows. So my favorite art is the amazing view of metro Atlanta, Centennial Park, Stone Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain, the Stadiums, The Capitol, the airport, the Blue Ridge Mountains, looking out over the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Georgia Aquarium. Especially on some days, half of the sky is dark and cloudy, while the other half has sunshine. When I work long hours, the sunrises and the sunsets are breathtaking.
Jaffe: You are an avid sports fan and collector.
Kessler: Matt Ryan’s jersey overlooks the Mercedes-Benz Stadium just for spite (I’m a Saints fan, and his jersey looks out at what could’ve been, for Falcon’s fans, a place that led them to a championship). I went to the Super Bowl and was rooting for them. In addition to what’s on display, we have closets full of autographs on championship balls and helmets given by clients. The basketball signed by the entire “Hawks 60” win team was a surprise gift.
Jaffe: Last word?
Kessler: We may be running out of space for art, but we aren’t running out of divorces.
- Chai Style
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Randy Kessler
- divorce law
- Dominique Wilkins
- Michael Jordan
- Cardi B
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart
- Dr. Seuss
- Peter Max
- toco hills
- David Schluss
- Museum of Modern Art
- Tefen Open Museum
- Romero Britto
- Hawaiian ‘MJ’ Villanueva
- American Bar Association
- Centennial Park
- Stone Mountain
- Kennesaw Mountain
- Georgia Aquarium
- Mercedes-Benz Stadium