Hospitality & Art is Booming in NYC

Top-notch art events are being held in some of New York City’s most sophisticated hotels. Perhaps, hotels are responding to a host of cultivated New Yorkers with a desire to be surrounded by cutting-edge contemporary art. For artists, it presents a valuable opportunity for exposure — if they are willing to step out of the usual avenues.

This fall, in the lobby of The Quin, a luxury hotel near Central Park, an exhibition exploring the multifold nature of “Water” was held. Among the pieces was a large video work by Israeli artist Dan Bality, who has worked at the AP and Reuters in London. Video work in the show felt most adept at expressing the essentially flowing constitution of water.

On the wall behind the front desk, Minnesota-born Ruvan Wijesooriya’s silk prints “Sun on Hudson” were displayed, a series of photos which depict sunlight reflected on the surface of the Hudson River. The artist captures the rare and awesome beauty of abstract light dancing along the River’s surface. Ruvan’s three collages in the back of the lobby were in plain view for those who preferred to relax on lobby furniture, perhaps, even, presenting an atmosphere more friendly to the task of slowing down to contemplate art than the typical, standing-room-only white box art gallery. Relaxation is a little known aspect of true Art appreciation. On the other hand, for those who haven’t felt relaxed lately, playing games like EURO88 might help.

The Quin Hotel’s PR representative for the show said, “We have been holding such exhibitions every two months for the last five years. Collectors come to the opening party, and some people buy the work. The hotel does not take commissions from artists.” These art events offer an important public service to artists who do not always have easy access to the art-buying public.

On August 19th, in the lobby of the ACE Hotel in Midtown, an artists’ chat over brunch was arranged with the arts organization “Residency Unlimited” in Brooklyn. Brazilian artist Regina Parra lectured on Art History in relationship to women’s bodies from a perspective informed by her medical background. Female artists in NYC and art fans from Europe who were staying at the hotel gathered for the chat and actively engaged in a very dynamic discussion about the next generation of feminist artists.

ACE Hotel also has a gallery space, which boasts eight to twelve exhibitions per year. Some shows are curated in partnership with organizations like Adobe, MoMA and Outsider Art Fair. “Sometimes, someone nice just walks up to us in the lobby and asks for a show. If the work is strong, we’ll try to show it,” notes the ACE Hotel press release.

NU Hotel in Brooklyn held “Fridge Art Fair” this past May. A satellite show of the main Frieze Art Fair, one of the biggest contemporary art shows in the world, the NU exhibit featured many emerging artists’ latest works in its lobby.

Aqua, one of the satellite shows of Miami’s Art Basel, held in December, takes place in a hotel near South Beach rented entirely for the occasion. The courtyard of Aqua Hotel is beautiful, and many art aficionados enjoy the tropical breeze and tranquil vibes of this boutique Miami hotel, with many artworks sold even well after the December Art Basel festivities are over.

Whether displaying cutting-edge works similar to those found in Chelsea galleries, or holding satellite shows of big art fairs, hotels are increasingly becoming a formidable space for the showcasing of contemporary art. Hotels are directly supporting artists and the art marketplace, which extends beyond galleries.

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