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AC Hotel Kingston, where art matters

Published:Friday | November 15, 2019 | 12:29 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer
Laura Facey’s ‘Spirit Dancer’ 1998 – fired clay, feathers, fabric and straw.
Laura Facey’s ‘Spirit Dancer’ 1998 – fired clay, feathers, fabric and straw.

Visitors to the recently opened AC Hotel Kingston at 38-42 Lady Musgrave Road in St Andrew cannot miss the eye-catching and engaging pieces of artwork in its lobby and dining space.

The pieces are all over the place in their various media, sizes, and essences.

But what some people might not know is that the selection and placement of the contemporary pieces were very deliberate to serve a particular agenda.

Susanne Fredricks, art consultant, who worked with co-curator Scott Pieffer to select and place the pieces, said, “AC Kingston’s art collection has been curated specifically to bring a powerful, sophisticated, rich, and diverse sense of Jamaica into the guest’s experience. Our culture, our island’s dynamic beauty, and our articulations about who we are are all communicated through the lenses of some of our most exciting contemporary visual artists.”

The narratives are conveyed through digital media, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, mixed media, and textile.

“They all stand as a testament to Jamaica’s current intersect of our local visual narratives with global conversations,” Fredricks said.

He added, “The curatorial intent is to create a collection that empowers guests to ‘see’ Jamaica in new ways, to gain new insights into the complexity of Jamaica, and to feel a deeper connection and sense of presence to our island during their stay at AC Kingston. It serves to give a strong sense of our culture and sense of contemporary nationhood to AC’s guest travellers.”

But the art is not intended for in-house guests only. Walk-in patrons, too, have a chance to view at these contemporary pieces that they perhaps would not have had a chance to embrace were they not mounted in that particular space. Everybody is welcome at AC Kingston, Fredricks told The Gleaner recently while speaking about the hotel’s foray into art.

“The AC is an urban hotel. The whole brand is about the curious – the people who want to learn more, who want to be travelling in a city that carries some energy – and the art reflects that … . It’s an international standard of a contemporary presentation of a group of artists working in the space, and they have translated it into an international interest,” Fredricks said.

The pieces were done by contemporary Jamaican and Trinidadian artists, like David Pinto, Shoshana Weinberger, Katrina Coombs, Rodell Warner, Leasho Johnson, Andre Woolery, Laura Facey, Cosmo Whyte, and Tamara Harding – whose 2019 piece ‘Becoming’ is mounted in the ‘waterfalls’ in front of the entrance to the lobby. It is her first commissioned piece.

Most of the pieces were commissioned, and the exhibit is an opportunity for “those who are interested to learn more about the artists, what issues they are working around, and the techniques they are using”, Fredricks said.

Sometimes the artists are in-house to discuss their work, and some staff members are trained to speak about the pieces.

“The AC decision to invest in a contemporary art collection is visionary and places them at the forefront of corporate leadership. It shows their recognition of the important and powerful place contemporary art can have in communicating a nation’s narratives to their guests,” Fredricks writes in her notes about the pieces.

These “strong”, “purposeful” pieces are meant to trigger conversations and public discourse about issues that we all face, she told The Gleaner. The pieces are indeed a Corporate collection, a long-term investment, that, while being permanent, “is not static”.

More is intended to be added.

AC Hotel Kingston, part of the AC Hotels Marriott chain, is marketing itself as “a new way to experience Kingston”, “a new way to stay”, “a new way to breakfast”, “a new way to meet”, “a new way to mingle”, and “Kingston’s first art hotel”.