Behind the Scenes: Local art at the Hilton

  • Photos by Meghan Ralston
From the November 8, 2012 edition

The new Hilton Hotel across from the Convention Center opened its motion-sensor revolving doors a few weeks ago. So striking are the fancy features at the 532-room hotel, this equally impressive fact flies under the radar: This huge brand paid to use local artwork in the new downtown Hilton.

Work by 128 central Ohio artists hang in the Hilton. The collection is worth more than $600,000 and includes art by internationally recognized Ohioans Aminah Robinson and Sid Chafetz and fledgling artists like recent CCAD grad Taylor Hawkins.

“I read that Ann Hamilton has a piece in it,” Hawkins said. “It’s quite an honor to be among such an established and well-known artist.”

Longtime Columbus arts patron Michael Reese worked as Hilton’s art consultant and was on the board of local arts leaders who suggested the pieces in the collection. Several groups involved with the construction and design of the hotel had to approve each piece — a process that made curating it challenging.

“It had to be nothing political, nothing crude, nothing religious,” Reese said.

Reese also decided where each of the 225 pieces worked best in the design of the hotel. There’s art everywhere — Adam Brouillette’s in the bar, Robert Metzger’s in the bathroom, Mark Yale Harris is by the pool.

Uniquely, each guest room also has a print of a local painting on the ceiling above the bed. For these Reese picked abstract paintings that were visually interesting but soothing.

The Hilton shows off the area’s new stars and historically important — who, by the way, are the namesakes of the hotel’s halls and meeting rooms (think George Bellows and Alice Schille) — in a way that is an art itself.

“Accepting [my artwork],” Hawkins said, “should make the public aware that there are really young talented artists in Columbus that have not gone on to the bigger cities, but have stayed and are trying to make the art community stronger.”

You can see how Hilton has helped that community flex its muscles — much of the collection is available for perusal without getting a room.