Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Four Seasons Is a Patron to the Arts

The Four Seasons international luxury hotel chain has started to add lush art collections to its hotels. This isn’t vague “hotel art.” This is something new. Culture and beauty are combined to form a synergy that tantalizes the mind as well as the eye. And now audio tours with interviews and commentary from the artists themselves, as well as experts with special knowledge of the collections, are available with accompanying brochures so that you can enjoy the art at your own pace with the actual artists as your guide.

At the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, cultural flavor is suffused throughout the collection, as most of the featured pieces are done by local artists. The audio tour includes commentary with artist Anne Appleby discussing the influence of nature in her etching, and painter Deborah Oropallo sharing how her son’s toy train tracks inspired her to create the large-scale work “Fast Track” years later.

The Four Seasons Silicon Valley hotel in Palo Alto, California features a rich collection of modern art and artifacts from around the world. The audio tour contains eclectic interviews with the collections featured artists—jazz musician Bobby Previte explains how artist Joan Miró inspired the album “23 Compositions of Joan Miró,” and painter Hester Simpson discusses what influences her abstracts.

Their Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea has an extensive collection that features artists from all of the major islands who have created works that connect modern Hawaii to its roots. Curator Julie Cline explains that the “contemporary Hawaiian artists are reinterpreting all these connections with the land and culture and expressing it in different ways.” In the audio tour, featured artists share their works and inspirations. Claudia Johnson’s use of guava branches in her “Wave, Water, Moon and Currents” sculptures is discussed, and Kloe Kang explains how her work “The Wayfinder”—featuring rice bowls configured to look like a constellation—pays tribute to her family’s journey from Korea to Hawaii ("Wayfinding" is the ancient Hawaiian voyager's method of navigation).

Also of note is the Four Seasons Hualalai hotel collection, which includes early Hawaiian art from 1778 through 1959—bark cloth, makaloa mats, and paintings by foreign nineteenth century artists visiting Hawaii. Together, these collections are a fascinating juxtaposition of different art periods.

The Four Seasons has hit upon the beginnings of the next hot trend in luxury travel—indulging the intellect as well as the physical senses. Brilliant.

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