Guest blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning . She is an instructor in the SMU/CAPE program with Spring classes in art appreciation registering now.
Columnist Arianna Huffington tells the story of packing her suitcases for hotel stays with scarves in various colors so that she can cover the art work she finds distasteful or unsettling. Well, if Ariana were staying at the Dallas Fairmont Hotel in the Arts District, she would have no need for scarves. If she found the hotel art not to her liking, she could merely visit the working studio of the hotel artist on level “O” and commission a work.
The Fairmont boasts the only hotel artist residency program in Dallas – if not in Texas – in which the growth and development of the resident artist is considered, as well as an offer of an unusual amenity for guests. (Maybe you remember Jerome’s radio story about the program?) The Omni and new NYLO Hotels are to be commended on their initiatives in promoting the Dallas art scene, but they have no residency program … yet.
The Fairmont’s two-and-a-half-year-old program is a result of a creative partnership between the hotel and artist/entrepreneur Bryan Embrey, who has since relocated to Venice, Calif. The gallery he created on the first floor of the hotel to show off the artists’ work has been turned over to his colleague, Phoenix-based artist Zach Saucedo, who was the first artist tapped for the residency in the summer of 2010. Dallas artist and former Fairmont resident Mikki Mallow is the on site creative director of what is now called THE GALLERY at the Fairmont.
Photographers, painters, sculptors and now a graffiti artist, The Dose One, have been guest artists of the Fairmont. They enjoy a life somewhat resembling Eloise at the Plaza, but instead of running through the lobby with stuffed animal, they carry paint brushes and/or spray cans at all times of day. “Our goal is to offer a very comfortable and welcoming space for the artist so they can enjoy a seamless environment allowing them to create late into the evening – whenever so inspired,” Fairmont marketing director Katie Norwood says.
Selected by Saucedo, Dose is a self-taught, Phoenix-based artist in his mid 30s, known there as “the local graffiti king.” He grew up in the barrios of Los Angeles, where he sprayed the walls, ran from the law, tagged and was tagged. Today, many exhibits, gallery shows and awards later, he is actually invited to spray those walls. (He was also a Phoenix TED speaker in 2011.) He remains the Dose One – the first, he feels, to bring graffiti art to a higher level. “We help each other,” he says, adding that he abides by unwritten laws of tagging and a hierarchy and recognized list of who’s in and who’s out. (Shepard Fairey is out. Plastering walls with little risk, little automatic expression, aided by a computer is not cool, according to Dose.)
Last week he moved into his free Fairmont extra-large suite, complete with maid service and chocolates on the pillow. His wife and baby will join him soon. He has installed his art in the hotel lobby, set up his free studio space, lined the shelves with spray cans, covered the walls with canvas and is ready to hang the “open” sign on the door. Level “O” connects with the underground tunnel system, so passers by are invited and encouraged by front desk fliers to peek into the glass-enclosed studio, open 11-4, and talk art with Dose. And if he says, “Come up to my room to see my etchings,” he really means it.