In the lobby of The Independent Hotel in Center City, abstract paintings align the walls in a room that resembles a connected kitchen and living space in someone’s home.
The hotel worked together with the Tyler School of Art in selecting seven MFA students’ original paintings to display in the lobby, adding to its intentions of creating a style of domestic space for guests.
On Nov. 20, the hotel held a second annual reception with complimentary food and wine in the lobto celebrate the new gallery of artwork they plan to rotate biannually.
This event was the second year The Independent Hotel, a part of Independent Collection hotels, partnered with the Tyler School of Art MFA program, which is ranked among the Top 20 fine art schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
Margo Margolis, a professor of painting and drawing at Tyler, partnered with the hotel to select the students’ artwork for the installation. She has worked closely with both the student artists and representatives of the hotel.
“I think it’s great for our students to see their work out of the studio, in the context of a space in the city of Philadelphia,” Margolis said. “For them, it gives a connection to the idea of Philadelphia as their city at the moment.”
“I think it’s very important for the hotel that their guests are seeing something that is really a product of the city,” she added. “It is very special. It’s not like something that’s just bought and put on the wall, or a poster or something. It’s very personal in a certain way.”
Margolis gathered several images from each artist for the hotel view and said there was no specific theme they were looking for in the selection process.
“I think what is great about the exhibition is that it shows the range of work our students do, from figurative to abstract,” Margolis said.
A second year MFA student, Moira Connelly was chosen to feature her artwork in the exhibition for the second time. Her two paintings, “Weaving” and “Untitled,” are both works of textiles and weaving as source material with calligraphic lines, inspired by historical 1960s crafts.
“The black and purple colors are really pulling from the object of the source – for me they feel kind of like ‘60s craft objects, but in a general way,” Connelly said. “They are connected with objects that I grew up with.”
Alex Echevarria also had two paintings featured in the exhibit. His pieces, “Comfortable” and “Slab,” contain elements of scale and abstraction.
“I often wondered why more places don’t do something like that in their hotels, especially in the city where there is so much art,” said Echevarria, who is also a student in Tyler’s MFA program. “You see pictures, but it’s always a reproduction or this and that, and I wonder why all this art isn’t taken advantage of. I think it’s very cool they allowed us to do that.”
The hotel was originally a printing press that was transformed into a residence before it became a hotel six years ago. The historic building has been renovated into a contemporary style but kept an historic feel with brick walls, hardwood floors and cathedral ceilings.
John Barsoum, the general manager of The Independent Hotel, said the students’ artwork complements the style of the hotel.
“It looks great in the lobby area – they are beautiful pieces of art,” Barsoum said. “Each one has its own style, and we are proud to have their partnership here and display their art on our walls. It’s not like a regular photo on the wall like most of the hotels– it’s something different and we’ve tried to look beyond other hotels.”
Alexa Zizzi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org