It's rare you meet a man who really understands a woman. Staring at "Inner Time," I knew artist Carlos Estevez understood the female complexity. He had to - how else could he have painted a picture that depicted the depths, difficulties, passion, imperfectionism, idealism and heartbreak of a woman so perfectly?
I stared at the ballerina in the painting - her red dress a stark reminder of the vitality, resilience and masked vulnerability of a woman. The clocks surrounding her were a constant reminder of time passing by as she contemplates in which direction to move. She was mysterious but seemed open to the journey.
It's hard to predict when and where art will move you. It's likely you'll never forget the moment you saw the Mona Lisa up close, looked at the frescoes on the Sistine Chapel, or walked among the sculptures inside the Alhambra. Art galleries and museums exist around the world with works so powerful they leave you breathless, but it's not often you're struck by art in your hotel.
In his painting Inner Time, Carlos Estevez conveys inner time as personified by a ballerina. "The dance in itself is a symbol of movement and of all the dynamic processes of the universe." The piece is the largest work of art Estevez has ever created, and has been on loan to The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne since it was unveiled during Art Basel 2009. Cited by the Wall Street Journal last year as one of four artists "leading the Cuban art revolution," Estevez created this piece specifically for RUMBAR, which is home to Miami's largest rum collection, and is the only upscale live Latin music venue in Miami.
Antiques and modern art throughout the 1903 Beaux Arts building help continue the theme of bringing the past into the future at XV Beacon. Guest rooms display chosen works by Martha Lloyd, Joe Greene, Tony Evanko, and Ben Freeman, who were specially commissioned to create pieces for XV Beacon. The lobby artwork is dominated by "Green Dot," oil on canvas by Jules Olitski (1922-2007), Russian-born post-painterly abstractionist. In the Wine Cellar of Mooo, a magnificent Roman mosaic depicts two deer amidst flowers, amphorae, and fish. The piece dates from the fourth to the fifth century A.D.
At The Surrey Hotel in New York, London-based Jimmie Martin makes an impact. Jimmie Martin is a London-based luxury furniture brand established in 2004 by young designers Jimmie Karlsson and Martin Nihlman. The individual pieces of each collection often feature eccentric and whimsical upholstery paired with antique frames. Each piece is hand-painted with original artwork, often a graffiti-like rendering of contemporary icons or phrases.
Gianni Versace loved art, and his legacy through art lives on at the Villa by Barton G. One of the Villa's most notable features are the intricate frescos located throughout the property, each of them created for Mr. Versace by specially selected artisans. Many of the pieces reflect Mr. Versace's interest in Roman Mythology and the Italian Masters. Prominently featured are gods, goddesses, cherubs and other classic motifs. Kneeling Aphrodite: Legend has it that this piece was what first drew Mr. Versace to the property. The life-size bronze now in The Villa's front entrance was created by Vuk Vuchinich, a renowned sculptor and close friend of Freeman's who is portrayed in one of the third floor plaques.
Starting in 2008 after the renovation, the owner of the Dolder Grand, Urs Schwarzenbach, began displaying his personal collection of art in the hotel. As a lover of fine art, he made a conscious effort to bring in pieces that would not only offer a chance to display them, but to also increase the guests' experience. The Dolder Grand also occasionally displays works from other museums located in Zurich. Though pieces are from time to time rotated throughout the hotel, the private collection of Mr. Schwarzenbach remains fixed for all to see, while museum pieces change.
21c Museum is North America's first museum dedicated solely to collecting and exhibiting art of the 21st century. The 9,000-square-foot Museum is part of the 21c Museum Hotel, located in downtown Louisville's art and theater district. The exhibitions and installations of 21c Museum weave into the fabric of the hotel and the surrounding street-scape, with works of art filtering into both public space and unexpected places. Works of art appear in elevators, public restrooms, sunken courtyards, hallways, guest rooms, the walls and corners of the Proof on Main restaurant and bar, and on the floor, windowpanes, roof, and the city sidewalk.
When the Four Seasons finally opened in Florence in 2008 it was a celebration for the masses. The hotel took more than seven years to build, thanks to hidden art and frescos that were discovered during the renovation of the 15th-century Palazzo della Gherardesca and 16th-century convent--two separate buildings connected by the largest public garden in the city.
The dark, gothic atmosphere of New York City's Gramercy Park Hotel adds ambiance to the hotel's intense art collection. Ian Schrager appealed to art aficionados with an impressive collection of artwork by Warhol, Basquiat, Haring, and Picasso.
Everything is a little sexier in London, even the artists. At the SOHO Hotel in London, the lobby is dominated by a jet-black, ten-foot-tall cat, just one quirky feature of the artsy hotel in the heart of central London's media district. Each of the 91 rooms in the hotel feature a piece of artwork from the owners private collection.
Hotel Arts Barcelona features over 1,000 works from some of the best well-known artists including Frank Gehry and Xavier Corbero. Inspired by chess pieces - Corbero sculptured 10 foot-tall Chess pieces including the Bishop, King and Queen. Corbero is an artist from the Catalan region of Spain, where there has been a long tradition for the production of fine sculpture. Corbero's roots are in Barcelona and he is often considered to be Spain's premier living sculptor.
The Sagamore Art Hotel is located in Miami's Art Deco Historic District and showcases both established and emerging artists during Art Basel - a cultural and social art event that highlights an international selection of top galleries with an exciting program of special exhibitions and cultural events. The collection, curated by hotel owner Cricket Taplin, has showcased works by an international roster of hundreds of artists since its inception in 2001. During Art Basel 2010, the Sagamore Hotel will feature selections from the Cricket Taplin Collection in an exhibit composed of video, painting, sound, photography, sculpture and mixed media artwork contributing to a one-of-a-kind multisensory experience.
I was standing at RUMBAR in The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne, when I came across "Inner Time." So captivated by the red ballerina on the wall, I tuned out the Latin music playing the background and forgot I was standing on 30 minutes from South Beach. This wasn't your typical white hotel wall. This was a statement.
Hotels have long fallen victim to bad art, hanging the typical 'sailboat in the water' or 'girl picking flowers' poster of a painting on bland white walls. However, thanks to a new wave of owners and a more aggressive generation of artists, hotels are starting to realize the potential of having rare, unique and sometimes controversial works of art placed in open space.
My fascination with "Inner Time" stayed with me long enough to contact Estevez for an interview. I was intrigued by his perception of women and his thoughts on how travel could inspire art in various forms.
"We travel as a way to get real knowledge. When you travel, you meet the human touch, the reality of people, and experience is irreplaceable," he said.
The creation of "Inner Time" came from a feeling, Estevez said. He had an intuition to paint a piece that deconstructed the woman's mind and embraced her inner beauty, and the result was the ballerina in red surrounded by clocks and cityscapes.
"The spirit is a complex machinery - no one knows exactly how it works. We react in life based on different circumstances," said Estevez. "The machinery is a metaphor of human spirit and the other aspect is time - how time can change in relationship based on the perception we have on life. Sometimes life passes us by fast, and sometimes it passes too slowly, but everyone has a case of their own time."
As for why he chose he a woman to represent time?
"I found the woman's universe is more spiritual, with a power of sensibility," he said. "I think women in general are more mysterious."
Seems one man's mystery is now a work of art.
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