“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
And independent hoteliers—the folks you ask where to go to take in local culture and where to wash it down at the end of the day—know this sentiment well. After all, part of the artistry of professional hospitality lives in the ability to liaise between guests and their environment—to show them something.
Here, our second installation of independent hotels with on-site art you’d never see at a chain hotel.
William Vale, Brooklyn, NY
The William Vale and the Brooklyn Arts Council selected Brooklyn-based artist Marela Zacarias as the winner of a $200,000 lobby art commission. Zacarias’s 25’ x 20′ x 3’ three-dimensional sculptural painting offers various visual and historical perspectives. Resembling a giant, abstract map of Brooklyn, the piece draws on Brooklyn’s history and its original Native American inhabitants.
The Porches Inn, North Adams, MA.
Located across the street from the U.S.’s largest contemporary art museum, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), The Porches Inn proudly continues the area’s tradition, serving up its own lineup of artwork.
A piece by Nina Katchadourian, commissioned by MASS MoCA as part of the 2008 exhibition Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape, is called Fall’s Colors. Katchadourian has set one of the branches on one of the maple trees beside The Porches in a permanent state of peak fall color. Visit anytime except the fall and the branch will stand out. By fixating on one point in the tree’s seasonal cycle, the always-fall branch calls attention to the changing environment.
The Resort at Port Ludlow, Port Ludlow, WA
This forty-foot totem pole has watched over Port Ludlow Bay since 1995. Designed and carved by David Boxley, a Tsimshian carver from Alaska, the pole depicts the evolution of Port Ludlow. The eagle at the top represents the area prior to human occupation. A bear sits below, representing the ancestors of the local S’Klallam tribe. Next, two men with locked arms embody the owners of the sawmill that once operated in the port. Beneath them, a lumberman represents the sawmill’s eighty-year operation. Below that, a beaver stands in for Pope Resources, a timber company focused on land and resource stewardship. And at the bottom of the pole, six interlocking figures personify the Port Ludlow community as it stands today.
Gateway Canyons, Gateway, CO
It would be hard to make an argument for calling that ’91 Camry you snickered at at the gas station last weekend a work of art. Not all cars are created equal. Case in point: the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 convertible pictured above. Gateway Auto Museum plays host to the F-88 and a fleet of other four-wheeled works of art, ranging from the barebones-but-beautiful vehicles from early 1900s to the regal rides of the 20s and 30s to the iconic American muscle cars of the 60s and 70s. Just as you don’t have to be able to articulate the difference between Impressionism and Post-Impressionism to appreciate fine art, you don’t have to have a subscription to Car and Driver to appreciate Gateway Auto Museum.
Whitney Peak, Reno, NV
Standing 80 feet tall and 35 feet across, Christina Angelina’s mural known as “The Face of Reno” welcomes visitors and keeps an eye on the locals. Angelina has painted murals in Berlin, Sao Paulo, Miami, NYC, and beyond. She finished her moody portrait on the south side of the Whitney Peak parking garage in 2015 after a three-day paint-from-the-crane marathon.
Sunset Marquis, Los Angles, CA
If art is how we decorate our space, music is how we decorate our time. And at Sunset Marquis, time flies. The story goes: writer / producer Jed Leiber and guitarist Jeff Beck were staying in the Sunset Marquis Hotel in the early 90s and were writing and playing music in their room. After some noise complaints, the General Manager of the hotel offered them a laundry room in the basement where they could make as much noise as they wanted. Since then, a list of artists including Aerosmith, Justin Timberlake, Cyndi Lauper, Aretha Franklin, Hall and Oates, and too many others to list have recorded at the Nightbird recording studio. Guests are welcomed and encouraged to tour the famous studio.