What law firms can learn from drawing inspiration from your commute

This week we took a look at an office with walls covered with dense paintings by artists such as Matthew Hale, Chuck Close and Matthew Barney and a manager of the practice, who described a way in which he strives to change the way people think about law by breaking up the monotony of discussions around the desk of abstracted landscapes.

Mike Rosenwell wants his workplace to feel less like a dull law office and more like a cross between Aetna, Costco and a graffiti-covered subway station.

With rules against black and white in the Virginia Beach law office he works in, Rosenwell, a manager at Holland & Knight, figures out the color schemes for various areas of the 12,000-square-foot space by first mapping the floor plan of the rest of the office space.

“This is nothing against black and white. It’s just the opposing scheme here. It’s about a conversation rather than a monologue,” said Rosenwell, who has worked at Holland & Knight since 2004.

He is a self-taught fine artist who finds inspiration in cities and buildings, then turns them into works of art he calls Fishplate.

The idea for Fishplate, an avenue, came to Rosenwell in January when he was in a taxi while traveling in Spain. “I saw a car traveling along this street that had been full of all these little fishplates. They were painted on walls and sidewalks,” he said. “I was enamored by the idea of little fish plates in cities.”

Rosenwell began to collect examples of such fishplates and to find him:

“I started tracking all these fishplates and I realized how cool they are,” he said. “There’s something really graceful about it and it’s something almost magical.”

Rosenwell, 48, teaches himself to paint out of collections, then copies and mixes the paintings with various base materials, such as silkscreen, ink and acrylics. A portion of his sales go to the Council of Americans for the Arts.

Here are some examples of Fishplate paintings, including the recently discovered mural in Manhattan’s Upper West Side:

He occasionally travels to Europe and as a side project catches people with working satellite dish antennas on his camera and filming them sitting and watching Fishplate paintings. Here is one from at Pier 36 in Los Angeles in January 2015:

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