August 04, 2011

Art Road Trip, part 2.

So, after all the fun of doing an alla prima wall painting and socializing with my hostess and curator, Carla, I had return home. It was recommended if I had time, I stop in Louisville and check out the 21c Museum Hotel, which I did. Perfect timing too. You may surmise that my arrival coincided quite nicely 2 pm Espresso Break. On the dot. CST.

 Wallpaper commission at 21c Museum Hotel, by Virgil Marti

But back to the museum- I was impressed with 21c Museum Hotel. Admission to the museum is free, no purchases are required and thus it makes art available to the public. One could argue that at $300 a night on the low end, the environment of an upscale boutique hotel could be more intimidating to "the public" than a museum, but at $8, my lunch of tuna confit was a generous portion (Slight lack of vegetarian choices on the menu) and I was surrounded by art that highlighted the art and artist rather than being pushed to the background. This is not a dig or a judgement, it's a call to raise the bar of presenting art to the public. I have a couple of commissioned paintings gracing the walls of an upscale hotel, but the museum hotel concept takes the idea of art, patronage, public, and hotel to another level. Patronage would be the key word. I would love to see something like this in Nashville.

21c Museum Hotel was founded in 2006 by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, philanthropists and arts patrons who had a vision for supporting the revitalization of Louisville's downtown and engaging the public with contemporary art in a new way. Understanding that art drives commerce and enriches people's lives, they created 21c Museum Hotel to help make Louisville—and its historic downtown arts and theater district—an even more vibrant place to live, work, and visit.
Born out of a love of contemporary art; a desire to create livable downtown spaces that prevent urban sprawl; a belief that art should be accessible, interactive and without pretense; and the conviction that art drives commerce, 21c has proven to be a critical and financial success and has established itself as market leader in the hospitality industry in Louisville and a nationally recognized destination. Following the success in the bluegrass, the 21c Team is looking towards opportunities to enliven the cultural and civic life in urban centers across the country. 21c Austin, 21c Bentonville, and 21c Cincinnati are three unique projects that will work towards fostering the revitalization of each city.

I'm choosing to highlight a few paintings from the exhibition, Cuba Now, because 1) I'm an elitist who wants to highlight painting and 2) It was a moderately-sized exhibit. That said, the non-paintings held my attention as well. Conspicuously missing from the exhibition was abstract painting out of Cuba. (Which makes sense, so I felt compelled to dig little deeper on Cuba and abstract painting to confirm some of my theories. I also discovered Cuban Art World, which as its name suggests, is rather encompassing.) But back to the Cuba Now. I encourage you to check out the links to the museum.

Yoan Capote, American Appeal (Bridge), 2009. Paint, fish hooks, nails, canvas on plywood. Artwork © Yoan Capote. Courtesy of the Pizzuti Collection.

Carlos Caballero, Alone, from the series "Les bulles de l'amour" (homage to Rene Magritte), 2009. Oil on canvas.
Artwork © Carlos Caballero

Guerra de la Paz, The Four Seasons, 2004. Mixed media sculpture with assorted clothing.
Artwork © Guerra de la Paz

Rocio Garcia, Vincent in Love, 2009. Oil on canvas. Artwork © Rocio Garcia

José Toirac, Cuba 1869-2006, 2006. Oil on canvas, wood frame and metal identification, nail. Artwork © José Toirac

Okay, seriously, this is not art, it's a real guy prepping one of the gallery spaces.  But you have to admit, the wall text makes it look pretty convincing.

 Frothy. I watched video art while supping.

 And stared at the pet portraits which was a fundraiser by artist Micki Thomas. Otto is rather difficult to paint w/o photographing him. I may yet accomplish this, though.

Then it was back to driving. Only not really. I went through some time warp where traffic stood still on I-65. At first I chilled, but then I almost panicked when I realized I hadn't moved in about 45 minutes. My car has a low-clearance and medians are deceptively steep and rocky.  

Right after I shot this, a few people started getting out of their cars. You haven't really lived until you've been stuck  in traffic at a standstill for hours on a freeway. I was caught in a snowstorm once back in the 80's and was asked by a police officer if two women who were trying to walk to an exit could stay in my car since they were on the verge of hypothermia. We ate leftover Chex Mix from Christmas and spent the night in a diner.

I observed other people bailing. 

I finally made it to a place with a level cut-through and backtracked to the last exit. From there I took back roads about half way home before jumping back on the interstate. Long travel day, but a great trip. 

I'm tempted to start reviewing boutique hotels as a side gig. Especially those with art collections. 

That was a long post. I should have been in the studio, but I needed to stretch canvas here today and organize some mail list stuff. I'm excited to get to the studio tomorrow. I spent a solid day there yesterday and have a painting waiting for me. 

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