It seems Brooklyn is full of hotels now – the recently opened Hoxton, William Vale and Ace are three that come to mind – but even amid the new openings, the Wythe Hotel is still the coolest. Opened in 2012 in an abandoned cooperage on the Williamsburg waterfront, the Wythe Hotel was Brooklyn’s original boutique hotel. From its industrial-inspired design to its French brasserie and trendy rooftop bar, it embodies the spirit of Brooklyn. But perhaps the most unique aspect of the hotel is its art collection, which includes hundreds of works on paper as well as murals and large-scale paintings by 60 artists displayed in guest rooms and suites. public spaces.
“Originally, the idea was to build something that really belonged in Brooklyn, because at the time it didn’t exist as a hotel,” said Peter Lawrence, co-owner of the Wythe Hotel. Brooklyn Magazine. He and his partners, real estate developer Jed Walentas and restaurateur Andrew Tarlow (no longer involved with the hotel) wanted to tell the story of Brooklyn – Williamsburg in particular – as a community of artists drawn to the spacious lofts, and through their energy and creativity transformed the gritty old neighborhood into the vibrant cultural destination it is today.
Lawrence and his partners enlisted Brooklyn-based artist Tom Fruin to create the hotel’s iconic sign on the exterior of the building and worked with Steve “ESPO” Powers and Duke Riley, who brought from rooms to public spaces. But when it came time to put art in the hotel’s 70 rooms, they needed help. So they hired another local artist, Kimia Ferdowsi Kline, to be the hotel’s artistic curator. A talented painter extremely connected to the Brooklyn art scene, Kline gradually built up the hotel’s collection, which contains works by Brad Kahlhamer, EJ Hauser, Jason Stopa, Michelle Segre, Susumu Kamijo, Kathy Bradford, Chris Martin, Marina Adams and Rachel. Eulena Williams, among others.
“I think being a practicing artist gives me a different level of access to the creative community in Brooklyn,” Kline says. “We don’t sell prints in our lobby, we don’t order artwork from Target or Amazon for our walls. Everything is done by hand, by an artist, in their studio, sometimes right outside I think curating and collecting really shows in a tangible way the intimacy and trust that we have built with the artists and continue to build.
Before the pandemic, Kline held art vernissages — which were held whenever all rooms on a given floor had artwork installed — commissioned rotating art exhibits for the lobby, invited artists to come for residences and organized draws. Although the pandemic has put a damper on events, they are slowly returning, starting with raffles and cinema screenings.
“Organizing events where artists can come together, share ideas and celebrate each other’s work is transformative,” says Kline, adding, “Because nothing is for sale, we completely avoid the art market. It’s just about celebrating the wealth of creativity and genius that exists in Brooklyn, and doing our best to convey that energy to our guests.
On December 8 at noon, Kline will give Untapped New York Insiders a virtual tour of the hotel’s art collection and insight into its curatorial process, beginning with studio tours. She’ll highlight some of her favorite pieces from the hotel’s permanent collection, explain the hotel’s conservation philosophy and how it focuses on community building, and provide insight into the public programming of the hotel. The event is free for Untapped New York Insiders (and get your first month free with code JOINUS).
Wythe Hotel Art Collection Tour
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