Denver Hotels With Museum-Quality Art Collections | Westword

Nine Denver Hotels With Museum-Quality Art Collections

Here are nine Denver hotels with noteworthy art collections.
The art offerings on the fourth-floor lobby of the Art Hotel include, from left to right: Deborah Butterfield's "Otter," Kiki Smith's "Singer," and Edward Ruscha's "Industrial Strength Sleep."
The art offerings on the fourth-floor lobby of the Art Hotel include, from left to right: Deborah Butterfield's "Otter," Kiki Smith's "Singer," and Edward Ruscha's "Industrial Strength Sleep." Courtesy of The Art Hotel
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Hotel art so often falls into one of two categories: bulk orders from the Thomas Kinkade House of Kitsch, or visuals that beg the question, Is that a painting, or did someone’s kid projectile-vomit gravy on the wall?

In 2015, however, when the Art Hotel opened in Denver’s Golden Triangle — an arts district that's home to multiple museums and galleries, including the Denver Art Museum, the Clyfford Still Museum and the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art – its vast collection from internationally known artists and its dedication to getting guests to pay attention to art had the effect of red paint splashed across a white canvas. Locals and tourists alike took notice.

Other hotels obviously did, too. Since then, numerous establishments, especially those that opened in the past few years, have been putting more effort into what they hang in their hallways.

Not that there weren’t already Denver hotels displaying impressive artwork before that; the Oxford Hotel has long possessed an enviable assortment of Western paintings, some of them dating back to its 1891 opening. But now some places are going so far as to hire art experts to curate their collections.

Arianna Flory knows all about curating; she’s the at-large curatorial assistant at the DAM, which means she gets to spend a lot of time surrounded by exceptional art. “I’m typically working with one department at a time, one team that’s producing an exhibition, like architecture and design or Asian art, and I’m supporting the curator on the project in everything they do,” explains Flory, whose educational background includes a bachelor’s in art history and business management from the University of Denver, as well as a master’s in art management from Sotheby’s Institute of Art. “I might be helping with catalogs or writing descriptions, or researching the provenance of a piece. Figuring out the history of art objects is really fascinating.”

Flory travels “a lot,” and she looks first for lodgings that offer a combination of art and architecture, and then at their amenities and restaurants. She’s stayed in some notable spots: “The King George in Athens, with its amazing view of the Acropolis,” for instance, which she says is “not only gorgeous in design, but also has a crazy good collection of Greek art and rotating exhibits.”

If Flory were curating for a hotel, she would advise establishing a vision from the onset and then keeping it consistent. “They should choose things very specifically to stay close to that vision,” she says. “It helps to inform the choices of pieces to add to the collection going forward.”

She also would recommend rotating what’s on display at any one time, or at the very least offering a combination of signature works that are always out while others can be switched around. At the DAM, for example, “We have some pieces that are icons that you can count on seeing, but then we have others that are less known and interesting, maybe from a really well-known artist, but they’re not always on view,” she says. “So it can generate more excitement and keep it a little fresh if there are pieces you hold back and bring out every once in a while.”

Flory says that while she wishes more hotels would embrace better art, she applauds the city’s public art initiatives, including the stipulation that any capital improvement project over $1 million must donate 1 percent toward the funding of public art. The program, in place since 1988, has resulted in more than 400 pieces of art on display around town, some of which were funded through hotel money.

“Some collections are like a free visit to an art museum,” she says. “It’s exciting to have so many local places where you can go have a cocktail and then explore art you might never have experienced.”

Here are nine Denver hotels with noteworthy (and Flory-approved) art collections:
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From left to right, three pieces from artist Odili Donald Odita hang in a walkway in the Art Hotel: "Expand," "Flashpoint," and "Window."
Courtesy of The Art Hotel
The Art Hotel Denver, Curio Collection by Hilton
1201 Broadway
Flory refers to the Art Hotel’s collection as the “best blue-chip art,” and it’s easy to see why after a quick peek at the roster of famous artists represented here: Sol LeWitt, Ed Ruscha, Tracey Emin, John Baldessari, Larry Bell, Sam Francis, William Wegman…the list goes on and on. The museum-quality works begin at the portico valet station, with Leo Villareal’s “Threshold,” a commissioned piece with 22,000 white LED nodes embedded in the ceiling. Paintings from the Clyfford Still and Vance Kirkland museums – both within walking distance – are displayed on the fourth floor, and the guest room floors and rooms themselves showcase more famous names, including some commissioned works. No surprise that the pieces here were curated by former DAM curator Dianne Vanderlip.
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The Marion Street Mural in the porte cochere of The Catbird is by Moe Gram, a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Denver.
Courtesy of The Catbird
The Catbird
3770 Walnut Street
One of several hotel collections in Denver curated by NINE dot ARTS, which helps companies around the globe choose appropriate art for their buildings, the offerings at the Catbird — which is located in the RiNo Art District — start at the porte cochere and wind their way through the lobby and into hallways and rooms. With a focus on the avant garde, the pieces are mostly lighthearted and fun, including the vibrant mural by Denverite Moe Gram that greets guests at the valet stand. The rooms are visually creative as well, with funky form-meets-function furnishings and the ability in some rooms to watch TV through a projection on the large window blinds. Be sure to check out the rooftop bar, the Red Barber, itself a visual masterpiece in rosy shades.
Art can be found throughout The Crawford Hotel, even in the bathrooms, such as this painting on metal by Mai Wyn Schantz called "Seneca Deer."
Courtesy of The Crawford Hotel
The Crawford Hotel
1701 Wynkoop Street
With its smartly conceived train theme, the Crawford in Union Station capitalizes on the old-timey mode of transportation’s beloved and nostalgic history through a 600-piece art collection that Flory calls out for its “nod to vintage travel” and deep focus on Art Deco and historical works. Unique pieces include very old travel postcards, aluminum prints by Mai Wyn Schantz, paintings by Virginia Maitland, suitcase installations by Phil Bender, and the “Station Within the Station” photo collage. The polished feel of the space, from the beautifully remodeled station itself — billed as Denver's "living room" — to the timber and brick used in the Pullman-styled and modern rooms, is testament to the depth of developer Dana Crawford’s vision.
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"Rope Canopy" at The Curtis Denver was designed by DLR Group and fabricated by DH Schmidt Co. The project was commissioned for the Curtis, a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel.
Courtesy of The Curtis Hotel
The Curtis Denver — A DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
1405 Curtis Street
Situated downtown, just two blocks from the 16th Street Mall, the Curtis is famous for its themed floors and rooms with pop-culture references, including “hyper-themed” spaces decorated to evoke subjects as diverse as Barbie, knock-knock jokes, sci-fi and sports. The hotel collaborated with NINE dot ARTS and Colorado State University Library’s Archives and Special Collections department to choose the featured pieces. The commissioned installation in the lobby, a 1950s-themed work titled "Rope Canopy," is a standout, designed by DLR Group and fabricated by DH Schmidt Co.

Flory describes the Curtis's overall concept as “fun and quirky,” adding that she hopes visitors will check out the 42-foot outdoor sculpture “All Together Now,” by nationally renowned artists Robert Behar and Rosario Marquardt, which was inspired by the Beatles song and is owned by the hotel. "The design at the Curtis is more elevated now," Flory notes. "It was more kitschy for a little bit, but now it's super-interesting. Once you get on a floor, the music takes over and you have this full immersive environment that's really appealing."
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These untitled pieces that hang by the fireplace in the Kimpton Hotel Born's lobby are by artist Stephen Batura.
Courtesy of Kimpton Hotel Born
Kimpton Hotel Born
1600 Wewatta Street
Locals are already familiar with the exceptional restaurant Citizen Rail inside the Kimpton Hotel Born — lauded for its inventive, chef-driven fare that works in a hotel setting — but may not know that after a satisfying meal there, they can wander the hotel’s lobby to check out some of the more than 200 works of art, each of which is an original or limited-edition piece commissioned by the hotel. Curated in conjunction with the Museum of Contemporary Art, the assemblage showcases art from 32 Denver artists, including Ana Marie Hernando, Mario Zoots and Mary Ehrin. A stay at the elegantly rustic hotel — rooms sport such Western accents as knotty pine headboards and walls and plaid-wool upholstery — yields even more opportunities to see the art, which is sprinkled liberally throughout.
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The Innovator Suite at The Maven features “Mod Maude” by Karen Fisher, a 2D mixed-media mural that combines acrylic paints with found papers.
Courtesy of The Maven
The Maven
1850 Wazee Street
The Maven, located in the equally arts-oriented Dairy Block micro-district in LoDo, is probably best known for the giant wooden hand in the lobby: "The Quantifiable and The Ineffable" by Andrew Ramiro Tirado. “It’s really impressive,” says Flory, who celebrates the work for its “bold appeal.” The art throughout the hotel is just as impressive, including the elevator landing piece titled "Dark Matter Gathering" by Travis Hetman and, in the Innovator Suite, “Mod Maude” by Karen Fisher, a 2D mixed-media mural that combines acrylic paints with found papers. The artists are from around Colorado and include Gifford Ewing, a Denver-based photographer who specializes in fine-art black-and-white photography using a Deardorff field camera, and Dolan Geiman, a mixed-media artist who uses found materials for highly textured results in his wall sculptures.
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This untitled work comprising stencil, mixed media and cement on canvas in the lobby of the Moxy is by Los Angeles street artist Hijack.
Courtesy of The Moxy
The Moxy Denver Cherry Creek
240 Josephine Street
Flory calls the Moxy, a stylish hotel in Cherry Creek that also employed NINE dot ARTS for its enticing collection, “hip and modern, and geared toward a young crowd.” The art follows suit, such as the edgy, untitled piece of stencil, mixed media and cement on canvas in the lobby by Los Angeles street artist Hijack. Rooms are comfortable but austere, which plays up the very small but mightily intriguing artworks that accent each space; there's art to check out hanging in the hallways of all eight floors, as well.
In 2018, The Oxford commissioned renowned Denver artist Duke Beardsley to create a new painting, “Trouble Checks In – A Night at the Ox,” which hangs in the lobby.
Courtesy of The Oxford Hotel
The Oxford
1600 17th Street
Originally opened in 1891, the Oxford is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel's prominent collection of classic Western art has been revived and was re-hung in 2018, with new frames selected by NINE dot ARTS. The American West gets a lot of attention at this classic and stately place, with some anonymous works displayed along with those by notable artists, including “Shipwrecked,” an oil on canvas by J.M. Fortenbury; “Nymphs and Satyr,” an oil on canvas by Adolphe-William Bouguereau; and “Health Spa,” an oil on canvas depicting Colorado’s Eldorado Springs by Charles H. Harmon. Flory loves the Cruise Room, “a Denver staple,” for cocktails served in a space modeled after the lounge on the Queen Mary cruise ship. Five years ago, the Oxford commissioned renowned Denver artist Duke Beardsley to create a new painting, “Trouble Checks In – A Night at the Ox.” Hanging in the lobby, the painting shows a lineup of seven cowboys transposed over a historic Oxford Hotel guest ledger that includes the names of two of Beardsley’s ancestors — he’s a sixth-generation Coloradoan — as well as former Mayor Quigg Newton.
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This eminently selfie-friendly piece lights up the cocktail bar at the Ramble. It's titled "Wish You Were Here" and is by artist Scott Young.
Courtesy of The Ramble
The Ramble
1280 25th Street
Calling out its “dark, moody, sexy, vintage vibe,” Flory says she loves the Ramble in RiNo because “it creates such a mood out there at night,” adding that the garden bar, Death & Co, is one of her favorites. “It has such a cool vibe where you really do feel like you’re in a garden,” she explains. “The large neon sign called ‘Wish You Were Here’ flickers on and off and captures this iconic old-school feel.” The hotel’s French salon aesthetic — it’s patterned after Madame Rambouillet’s salons of the 17th century — makes for an ideal backdrop for the plethora of artwork by Denver artists, many of whom have studios in the surrounding neighborhood. Each room is individually decorated and also contains several of these pieces, as well.
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