NINE dot ARTS worked with Sage Hospitality and Gettys Group to curate a collection to revive The Blackstone hotel and reposition it as an iconic destination for Chicago’s Cultural Mile. NINE dot ARTS leaned heavily on the hotel’s storied history—from its days as a jazz lounge to Al Capone’s favorite spot for a haircut—to infuse the art collection with meaning and substance. NINE dot ARTS built upon the hotel’s existing artworks by involving numerous artists and galleries in Chicago to interpret the historic through a contemporary lens. NINE dot ARTS incorporated works with bright colors, vibrant energy, and a cheeky sense of humor to enliven the renovated spaces and create a residential feel. The lobby art program, for example, includes a gallery wall that features paintings, photographs, and prints all by local Chicago artists. Above the mantel, Celeste Rapone’s stylized Painter nods to the hotel’s long-standing patronage of artists. Each of the elevator lobbies showcases a unique artwork as well. The hotel’s architecture acted as inspiration for a number of artworks including Chris Silva’s The Halos Bottleneck, Michelle Litvin’s documentary photo series, Eric J. Garcia’s comic-book inspired The Blackstone Chronicle that records the hotel’s major milestones, and Matthew Hoffman’s text-based Ideas Filled the Air, inspired by the 1920 presidential nomination of Warren G. Harding in suite 915, where the phrase “smoke-filled room” was coined. Known as the hotel of Presidents, NINE dot ARTS created a presidential-themed collection for the Club Lounge that features Commanders in Chief who stayed at the hotel: Teddy Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. NINE dot ARTS commissioned Chicago illustrators to create portraits of first pets Laddie Boy (Harding’s Airdale Terrier) and Fala (FDR’s Scottish Terrier) as well as screen prints of FDR’s favorite cocktail and Ford’s famous “Tell the truth, work hard, and come to dinner on time” quote. In the guestrooms, NINE dot ARTS added two montages by local artist David Soukup to reference the hotel’s distinctive architectural style as well as some of its famous guests. His works act like palimpsests with their layered, rich textures, ghostly figures, and abstracted architectural elements from the hotel’s past. The Blackstone’s art collection defies convention with its unexpected and magnetic juxtaposition of the historic and contemporary to re-establish the hotel as a cultural destination for locals and visitors alike.
“The Blackstone hotel’s amazing art collection is better than a museum.” Lois Alter Mark, USA Today