A woman with a striking blond pixie cut emerges from the wrought iron door of a white building on Logan Street in Deep Ellum.Clear, cat-eye glasses frame her bright features and multiple colored earrings cling to her ears. She wears black leggings under a sleeveless, t-shirt style dress with black and white printed faces that have colorful sequins on their lips. Doubled chains hang from her neck and multi-colored yarn bracelets stack at her wrist just above her henna-tattoo covered hand. She turns to walk back inside, revealing multiple tattoos on her neck, including one that says “WAAS.”
WAAS stands for “We Are All Stars” and is the name of Brandy Adams’ art gallery, which she opened two years ago.Adams, however, is not your average art gallery owner. She is a celebrity hair and makeup artist with an impressive 14-year professional history in Los Angeles, working with stars such as Britney Spears and David LaChapelle. The 36-year-old is also a self-taught painter and professionally trained dancer, and single mother to her six-year-old son, Oliver.
Adams was born in Florida and lived there until she was three years old, when her family moved to Grand Prairie. She led a fairly happy childhood, despite some traumatic experiences she hints at. She kept busy with painting, dancing, competitive roller-skating and soccer. In high school she was inspired by her English teacher Miss Randolph to be on the student council.
“Even though I was probably the most odd candidate, I was the most delegated because I was always conscious of multiple cultures and life styles, versus just associating with one clique,” Adams said.
Adams’ open mind is reflected in the variety of projects she is involved with. Her mentor and yoga instructor of four years, Lisa Ware, works with her on a blog called “Art Saves Lives” which Adams adds to once a month after the full moon.
“[Brandy] does so much for others and continues to bring greatness, love, and light to anyone she comes into contact with,” Ware said. “We need more people like her in the world.”
This notion of “light” is a driving force behind Adams’ life.“I really do believe we all come from stars,” she said. The light coming in from the window behind her desk makes her bright hair glow and creates an ethereal image. In that moment, it is clear that Adams really may have come from the stars.
“A lot of what we see, we don’t believe in, and Texas especially has become such a concrete, driven state.” Through her progressive gallery, she hopes to push “sheltered” Dallas to new levels.
When it comes to choosing painters to showcase in her gallery, she says they usually find her. “I believe in universal connection…and who’s to be here at the time has presented themselves at the right time. ”Currently, WAAS is featuring the works of Eric Cox, who focuses on the human condition with themes such as sex and death. Adams isn’t afraid to showcase bold artwork that challenges societal norms. Amie Carson, who knows Adams through the arts community and her gallery, is amazed by her unwavering dedication. “She truly believes in other people and their talents and almost puts herself second to make sure that everyone is given the opportunity she believes they deserve. ”Adams’ confidence in her artists makes for a successful gallery. WAAS was the only gallery to be nominated for best exhibition last month, against big names like the DMA. “I believe anybody that comes into this gallery will be a star… that’s the only reason they’re here,” she said.
She attributes the opening of her gallery to her son Oliver who helped her to realize her capabilities. Like all important things in her life, she has a tattoo to represent him, a koi fish on her leg. She tears up talking about him.
“He reminds me everyday to keep walking no matter what.He forever changed my life,” she said.
When Adams was living in California she was told that an incredible event was going to happen to her when she turned 30, which she assumed would be traveling the world, or being on the runway in Milan, but at 29 she got pregnant. She always knew she had a purpose, but Oliver “helped [her] embody that purpose and see the world through the eyes of a child,” she said.
Before Oliver was born, Adams was living life in the fast lane.While talking about her life in California, she freezes and her wide eyes go blank behind her clear, cat-eye glasses. “Sorry, where was I?You gotta understand,” she scratches her head, “there’s been a lot of drugs and alcohol throughout the years…” This unapologetic openness of her years in Los Angeles is one of Adams’ many quirks. She was educated at L.A.’s Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts, and began working as a celebrity hair and makeup artist. Her first gig was with actor Paul Sorvino. She went on to be handpicked as a national makeup artist for Christian Dior. In the earlier stages of her career she was partying with the likes of Matt Damon and falling into a destructive lifestyle. “I wasn’t one of those drinkers who the next day is like ‘Oh, life is beautiful!’ I’m like, fuck that… I need to recoup for two to three days, call me after the weekend!” She eventually realized this life was unfulfilling and moved back to Texas. She hasn’t had a drink in 4 years which has “changed [her] life,” she said.
When Adams moved back to Texas as a makeup artist, she realized it was a “completely different beast” from L.A. and felt defeated by the commercialized market. She decided it was time to open her art gallery and took out a personal loan to start renovating the space. “Blood, sweat, tears and DNA is in this floor!” she says pointing to the wooden floorboards of the bottom level of the two-story gallery. Those who work with her are in awe of her as a person and a professional. “She is very passionate about the artists she represents,” says Alison Volk of Volk PR, who met Brandy on an Abi Ferrin photo shoot. “The best way to describe her is out of this world!”
By opening WAAS, Adams sought to help others, but found it was also therapeutic for herself in dealing with some traumatic events of her past. “The main reason I started this place is, I was sexually abused by my closest cousin when I was probably five or six. I didn’t really know all about it until I stopped drinking and was really able to put the pieces together… And he tried re-assaulting me three and a half years ago.” She also recently found out he has been doing the same thing to one of her cousins. “This place saved me from getting consumed by something I can’t change.”
When she’s asked what she will be doing 20 years into the future, her facial expression becomes serious. “I’m gonna own an island. I want to live there six months out of the year and have people that have experienced a trauma come for an eight week to three month program [to work through their pain]. ”She also hopes WAAS will have locations internationally at that time, and that her son will be happy. Tears spring to her eyes as she discusses what traits she hopes to pass onto him. “Honesty, integrity, and self-worth—because it took me a long time to find that.”