Artful Living

Photographs by Justin Maconochie

Gary Wasserman wears many hats. He’s produced circuses and parades, been involved in theater, art, and competitive horse-carriage driving, runs a highly specialized steel business with offices in Paris and Düsseldorf, and has even played an albino Amish man in a friend’s film. Today, however, the hat he wears is simple and red.

“If it’s red, I have to have it,” he says, of his long-lasting fixation with the color. “It’s a total compulsion.”

A quick trip through his Birmingham condo and it’s clear he’s not kidding. From the oversized red chandelier over his dining-room table to his bow tie and sofa, Wasserman lives his life in Technicolor. “I tend to like things that are luminescent, highly colored, and might have a certain whimsicality,” he says, explaining his kaleidoscopic taste. “It came with the red. It just happened.”

Whether it happened or developed over time, Wasserman’s compulsion for color is evident throughout the home he designed with help from his friend Lori Winslow Gordon, of Arkitektura In-Situ. The interior is vibrant, contemporary, and an accurate reflection of its owner. “This was up my alley because I knew he would be game for anything,” Gordon says. “Gary’s full of personality and he knows what he loves.”

Among the things he loves most is art. His collection — which ranges from contemporary German artists such as Peter Zimmerman and Marcus Linnenbrink to 1930s-era sculptures by Marshall Fredericks — is significant, saturated with color and, in most cases, comes with a story. “I like to know the artist,” Wasserman says. “It’s a lot more fun if you have some interaction with them. If you know who they are, the work means more.” Providing anecdotal and biographical background along the way, Wasserman highlights his favorite pieces so enthusiastically, you’d almost think he’d created them himself. “The paintings above the bed are Beverly Fishman,” he says. “Beverly’s the artist-in-residence in painting at Cranbrook Academy of Art. It’s funny. Beverly’s just like her paintings; she’s electrified.”

Wasserman, on the other hand, is wireless. Connected by modern technology, he bounces back and forth between continents the way some of us do television channels. He’s a man in perpetual motion. “I’m digitized to the greatest degree possible,” he says. “I’m never anywhere for very long.”

And with that, he’s got his red hat on and he’s out the door.