Metro State artists featured at new Springhill Suites hotel

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Metropolitan State University of Denver -- which starts a new round of classes today -- keeps expanding its scope, adding new buildings, programs and even a new name. The latest addition: a hotel on


. The Springhill Suites Marriott not only creates a place where hospitality students can learn the business firsthand, but it's also providing an opportunity for art students, since the hotel features an

art collection

of pieces done exclusively by Metro students, faculty and alumni.

The collection, curated by Martha Weidmann from NINE dot ARTS, comprises 641 artworks. Each of the 150 guest rooms displays one of two four-piece sets of prints of art done by students. But there is also original art all through the hotel -- in the entrance, lobby, dining area, fitness center, ballroom, even the restrooms.

"This hotel, from the very infancy stages, was designed to give students the opportunity to gain real-world experience. Most directly, that's going to be students in the hospitality courses," Wiedmann says. "But also that's incorporating students, alumni and faculty in the fine arts department."

After the concept of the all-Metro collection was conceived, a call for entries was sent out through the Metro website and alumni newsletter. The pieces were then selected by an art committee, which included representatives from the htoel's contractors, architects, Sage Hospitality and Metro's art department.

"These pieces have all been purchased by the hotel, so it's not a rotating collection; they're not up here for free," Weidmann points out. "This is a professional endeavor for these artists; they have been collected by this hotel."

During the selection process, the committee looked for pieces that not only fit in with the hotel's aesthetics, but were meaningful beyond the first impression. This resulted in a collection with a deeper appeal than what Weidmann calls "decorator collections."

"The pieces have a lot of complexity and a lot of depth to them, so the key here is that they are more than surface-level. And I think people do get that feeling when they are in this space -- that it's unusual, that it's not what they expected from any other hotel," she says.

"There's a consistent level of quality through all of the work, which I think is a statement of what a great job the art department is doing here in really building a program that focuses on a high level of not only theory, but execution," Weidmann continues.

While all of the artists featured have a connection to Metro, they also range widely in background and experience. Deanne Pytlinski, assistant chair of the art department, "likes to talk about this collection as being Metro State's past, present and future," Weidmann says. "Because there are alumni, there are current faculty and students, and then there are young, emerging students who will go on to be the future of the program."

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