Clarendon to host innovative art installation exhibit beginning on Thursday

(Madeline Pado/DD)
The Clarendon Hotel will host a unique installation exhibit later this week, featuring a wide variety of projects by a diverse array of local artists. (Madeline Pado/DD)

ArtelPhx, a one-of-a-kind art installation, will transform the rooms and halls of The Clarendon Hotel and Spa beginning on Thursday.

The art show is the first of its kind, featuring 21 local artists who will transform different spaces in the hotel, located near Osborn Road and Third Avenue, into unique, interactive viewer experiences. The show features site-specific installations ranging from yarn bombing to live performances.

“The art is created to fit the space,” said Tara Sharpe, curator of the show. “(It) is created based on what’s surrounding it and what’s involved in it.”

She said she looked for concepts where “the room (was) being taken over” by the art.

“Whenever you do site-specific installation work, you need to make sure it is utilizing the space,” she said. “That’s the point of the artwork.”

These artists will transform both the rooms and halls of the hotel. Every floor of the hotel is being used for the show, Sharpe said.

“There is more to fine art than just oil painting, 2-D work,” Sharpe said. “This is a show to showcase those talents but not forget about 2-D work either.”

Phoenix’s self-titled “hip historian” Marshall Shore is contributing to the show with his own expertise: Phoenix history.

Shore said he plans to project old found photographs of Phoenix taken by Phoenicians onto walls of the hotel. Shore plans to use old slide projectors to project the photos, creating a sense of nostalgia.

“Just using that old technology, hearing that ‘ka-chunk, ka-chunk’ of a slide projector showing different images … in fact, a lot of people coming may not even know what that sound is,” Shore said.

Shore said he is most excited to gain exposure from the show and see the mix of artists all in one space.

“Having so many artists and so many different mediums is going to be really exciting,” he said.

R. Pela Contemporary Gallery owner and curator Robrt Pela said he thought the show was a very exciting idea. Pela, who isn’t involved in the show, said he is most excited to see what artists Marilyn Szabo, Steve Weiss and Christy Puetz will do with their spaces in the hotel.

“This is a really great opportunity for a curator to learn how to curate; it’s kind of like an accelerated course in curating,” Pela said. “And kudos to the Clarendon for swinging out and taking this very risky business decision to represent the arts.”

Sharpe said the differences of each piece may catch people off guard, and she is excited to see where the viewers are drawn.

“I’m very excited to see how the public reacts to them, just because I don’t think they have seen anything quite like that before,” Sharpe said. “That is one of the most exciting things about this type of event … the scale that we’ve been able to do, and there is a variety.”

Weiss, film programmer for the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, created a video of an aquarium to be projected on the water wall at the hotel. He said the greatest challenge would be projecting in a nontraditional space with a nontraditional background.

“The idea of doing a video installation kind of appealed to me,” he said. “I was always curious as to what would happen if you projected on one of those water walls. ArtelPhx gave me the opportunity to play with an experiment.”

Ben Bethel, the owner and general manager of the Clarendon, said he hopes to make ArtelPhx an annual event.

“We are thinking it is going to be really successful,” Bethel said. “From what I understand and from what I’ve seen around the world where there have been other hotel-related art installations, it seems like ours will probably be one of the largest in the world.”

Sharpe said she picked the Clarendon for its unique and unexpected spaces. The Clarendon is also the only hotel that leaves complete control of each piece to individual artists, she said.

The Clarendon regularly features local artists throughout the hotel, Bethel said.

“We really try to be a big player in the local community and try to do as much as possible to support local charitable organizations, local causes and especially local artists,” he said.

“This is not something you could do at a corporate hotel; this is not an event that you could pull off at a chain hotel,” Sharpe said.

At the end of the day, the Clarendon is all about creating an unforgettable experience, and ArtelPhx aligns with that same goal, Bethel said.

“Locals are going to be surprised and impressed with the quality of the show and proud of the fact that they live in a city that has something like ArtelPhx,” he said. “Visitors of the hotel are going to be completely surprised.”

The VIP event will take place on Thursday, Sept. 5 from 7–10 p.m. Limited tickets are available for the event. The public is welcome to attend for free on Sept. 6 and 7 from 7–10 p.m.

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