Original Local Art Featured In New Omni Hotel

December 1, 2011 by · Comments Off 


By Shelby Foster

Art from the new Omni Hotel. (Photo by Shelby Foster/Beyond the Bubble staff)

Unique, original, and one-of-a-kind aren’t words normally associated with art hanging in hotels across the United States. Many guests have grown accustomed to seeing the same pieces repeated throughout rooms and hallways, lobbies and restaurants.

And for developer Jack Matthews, the monotony grew to be too much.

So when his company, Matthews Southwest, was brought on to build the Omni Dallas Hotel, a fresh take on art was a primary focus.

“I’ve spent too many days traveling for business in hotels,” he said. “Same picture, same thing, it gets monotonous. You get the feeling that it’s nothing special.”

The hotel, which is built adjacent to the Dallas Convention Center, opened its doors on Nov. 11.

Each of the 1,001 rooms at the Omni have around seven pieces of art, which equates to a whopping 7,000 original works done by more than 150 local artists.

The process of searching for artists from around North Texas and gathering pieces was not an easy task.

Jeremy McKane, of McKane Consulting, took on the responsibility of overseeing a large team to seek out the perfect art for the hotel.

One artist who was chosen to participate in the art initiative at the Omni was Luke Sanchez, a sophomore studio art student at Southern Methodist University.

He worked in collaboration with McKane and his team to create five large paintings for the hotel.

“All the paintings focus on Dallas landmarks, and since SMU is close to my heart, several depict Dallas Hall,” said Sanchez.

The greatest reward, according to McKane, was not filling the Omni with beautiful art, but truly impacting the lives of the artists.

McKane is incorporating a database system so that when a guest finds a piece they love, they can access the name of the artist and contact them directly to purchase a similar piece.

“Now we are talking about something that just keeps giving back to the arts community here in Dallas,” said McKane. “I think the process will continue to effect the community in ways we never imaged.”

So not only are the artists earning a one-time commission from the Omni, they can also broaden their client base and gain the benefits of having exposure in the hotel.

The database will be located in the gift shop in the Omni, aptly called “Collections.”

Among the usual personal necessities and trinkets, the gift shop sells homegrown products unique to Texas, like chocolate crafted into various shapes, books devoted to the history of cowboy boots, products by local soap companies, and handmade purses.

For guests looking for instant art gratification, there are a few pieces of art available for purchase in Collections, like architectural photography by Linda Wilson and abstract paintings by Willis Davis.

Art for sale in the Omni. (Photo by Shelby Foster/Beyond the Bubble staff)

Matthews said that a lot of the art around the Omni was created in a working conversation between the artists and the hotel during a two-year-long-process.

“We looked at what the artists have done in the past, and of course encouraged Dallas themes, buildings, entertainment,” said Matthews. “It was a delicate balance because we wanted to be true to what the artists’ wanted.”

They also made it a priority to feature mostly unknown artists, to give them an opportunity to grow their business.

According to Matthews, only around 25 to 30 percent of the art budget was spent on well-known artists.

Although the Omni Dallas has only been open for a few weeks, guests are already noticing that there is something different.

“We have a photo of Big Tex in our bathroom,” said Shalonda Shoat, who was celebrating a birthday weekend at the hotel. “There is also a beautiful one of the Majestic. They did a great job of blending the old and the new Dallas.”

Shoat was also fond of the dessert salsa made by a Texas-based company called Dread Head Chef that was for sale in the gift shop.

Jennifer Mask, who was visiting from McAllen, Texas, immediately picked up on the art due to her artist mother.

“My mom wanted me to make sure I checked out all the art and reported back to her,” said Mask, who had just checked in with her husband. “I can’t wait to see all the art in my room.”

Matthews hopes that the Omni Dallas won’t be the only hotel to incorporate the surrounding art community.

“We had a lot of people that said it could not be done. But now, I think we’ve raised the bar for other hotels,” said Matthews.

Big D Blog: Dallas Museum of Biblical Art Rising from the Ashes

April 7, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Posted By Madeline Olds

Good Friday is a day for Christians to take time off from our daily lives (school, work, craziness, etc.) to observe the crucifixion of Christ many years ago.

This is a time to spend with family and celebrate the comings of Easter, whether it’s attending a special church service, participating in community service, or going to a museum to observe biblical art– many people celebrate in some way.

North Dallas’s Museum of Biblical Arts, located just west of NorthPark Center, had the idea of re-opening their doors to the public on this day, after a fire in 2005 claimed their exhibit. They’ve come to expect that Good Friday is one of the busiest days for the museum, as families come to look at their beautiful works of art, and this year is no exception.

The fire was caused by faulty wiring which damaged thousands of pieces of art as well as destroying the museum centerpiece, the “Miracle at Pentecost” oil painting.

Originally, sprinklers within the building were considered financially prohibitive, but extreme sensitivity to a re-enactment of the tragedy has taken priority.

6,000 square feet has been added to the new museum to create 11 galleries of artwork instead of the original three. These galleries are displaying a wider variety of artwork and culture, including biblical archaeology, religious architecture, African-American, European, Hispanic, Israeli and Jewish art.

This rebuilding of the Museum of Biblical art was a good opportunity to make much-needed physical adjustments and convenience for visitors.

For example, they have relocated the entrance to make it much easier to find.

According to museum co-director and curator Scott Peck, approximately 80 to 90 percent of the museum visitors are people merely walking or driving by.

It’s been a long, hard five years to get the museum back up and running again, and to even have a bigger and better attraction, but will prove its worth in time.

“It’s been a labor of love,” said Peck. “There’s no other museum like ours in the world,” Peck says.

For the full story, click here.

Campus News Blog: Meadows Museum a Part of Local Art Tour

February 17, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Monica Sharma

Interested in art? On Sat, April 3, SMU’s Meadows Museum, along with seven other local museums, will be a part of the first annual Dallas Art News Museum Express Tour.

The tour will visit the Amon Carter Museum, the Crow Collection of Asian Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Kimball Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, SMU’s own Meadows Museum, the Nasher Sculpture Center and The Women’s Museum.

Registration is currently underway, and since there are only 20 spots on this tour, signing up early is key in getting a chance at this opportunity.

Art lovers will travel from museum to museum using three local mass transits.

The day, which will begin with coffee at 9:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. at The Women’s Museum, is a good way to see all the creativity and treasures the Metroplex has to offer.

If you’re worried about being hungry on this trek through art, Corner Bakery Café will be providing lunch.

A $50 ticket includes transit transportation, a t-shirt, eight admissions to Dallas and Fort Worth museums and a goodie bag.

While only 15 to 25 minutes will be spent at each museum, participants will have the chance to see eight museums full of great art all in one day.

Click here to register for this unique opportunity.

Arts Beat: Etruscan Art Mind Blowing

April 27, 2009 by · Comments Off 

If there was one thing I learned about art on Thursday night was the different types of Etruscan art. Nancy de Grummond came to speak to a group of SMU students, faculty and other artists at the Meadows Museum. The crowd was filled with mostly artist who could relate and understand the illusion of prophecy.

Grummond explained that this is a very difficult concept to grasp about Etruscans, and she was right. She explained that these objects were produced well before glass and the bronze discs have a convex side that slightly distorts the reflection.

The hour-long lecture had my mind squandering for answers. I tried to keep up with the material and? discoveries of the Etruscan culture, but talking about a person who knows little to nothing about art and Etruscan, my mind was long gone in another planet.

She regained my attention when she began to show pictures of artistic work and how one could decorate with an incised line drawing depicting a scene from mythology. By the looks on everyone else faces, Grummond discovered an accurate reflection of the Etruscan culture and unleashed the domains of this artistic work.

–Posted by Brittany Gilliam

Arts Beat: Prophetic Twist On Art

April 27, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Prophetic art can be described through pictures of animals, decapitation, and all other types of Etruscan Art? that can be? seen in the Meadows Museum.? Nancy De Grummond? spoke to art enthusiasts? Thursday, April 23, about how art can be portrayed prophetically. The Meadows Museum lecture was not the most popular amongst SMU students,? however approximately 45 people attended the lecture.

De Grummond spoke to her audience about her focus on the exclusive collection which includes convex canvases and shiny surfaces, including mirrors. Her lecture focused on the ability to distort the reflection of art. Not only has De Grummond wrote “A Guide to Etruscan Mirrors,” but she recently published two related books, (The Religion of the Etruscans and Etruscan Mythology, Sacred History, and Legend.)

I found the lecture to be interesting because prophecy is a difficult idea to illustrate. I was taken aback? by the images she showed by numerous artists who have cullminated a vast array of convex artistry.

Although this research by De Grummond is not for everyone, the basic understanding of various art forms in important to observe throughout life. And because I am studying in Italy during the upcoming summer, I was happy to know that De Grummond has taken her worldview of Hellenistic and Roman Archeology abroad.

–Posted by Christina Murphy

Arts Beat: Sights to Behold at Snider Plaza

April 27, 2009 by · Comments Off 

This just in: You don’t have to go to Deep Ellum or the Arts District to get your art fix; you barely even have to leave campus! Nest, a home decor and unique gifts store in Snider Plaza, has a Loft Gallery for those looking to find the perfect piece for their home or – for people like me who cringe at the sticker prices – just want to spend an afternoon absorbing some eye candy without watching sand volleyball at Dedman …

Nest’s Loft Gallery offers a collection of mosaics, paintings and sculptures by local and international artists. Dallas native Greg Piazza, a tax accountant by day and photographer by night, uses a blur effect to create pretty plaid and water color-esque pieces that are aesthetically pleasing. And Natalie Erwin, whose canvases are actually handmade birch wood panels, uses natural elements like wax pencils and milk paints to create intricate patterns that are reminiscent of 1960s home interiors. Think tapestries and duvet cover patterns at Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie.

The tiniest pieces – and most impressive in the gallery – are the framed mosaics and tiles by Pietra Dure master Mauro Tacconi. The artist, who cuts precious stones in a style that’s been passed down since the Renaissance in Italy, creates elegant tiles and frame pictures of animals and Italian landscapes. As one of only a handful of Pietra Dure masters left, Tacconi was even commissioned by Oprah. His pieces are pricey (one gold-framed mosaic of a white horse is $25,000), but it’s fascinating to see artwork that has a rich history.

Who knew? As SMU students, we take Snider Plaza for granted. If you’re already there lunching or shopping, stop by Nest and get cultured.

–Posted by Jaimie Siegle

Arts Beat: Visions in Prophecy

April 23, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Prophecy telling has always been a part of human history. Recently, Nancy de Grummond, a professor from Florida State University, came to visit SMU and share some of her 15 years of knowledge about the Visions in Prophecy in Estruscan, Greek and Roman art. Personally, I didn’t know what to think. I’ve actually never heard about prophecy telling in art. Apparenlty the position of the people in the Etrucen art has a lot to do with who’s meditating, reading a prophecy or receiving the message. I never really got into the presentation. A big part of it being that I had no idea what Etruscan art is about.

Honestly it was a little weird for me.

–Posted? by Josh Webb

Arts Beat: Is Art Invisible?

March 6, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Everyday I walk past the front of the Meadows School of the Arts and I see a piece of art in front of the building. Sometimes I walk by, other times, I briefly stop and look at it. Sometimes when I stop and look at it, I say to myself…what is it? Other times, I look at the shape and think what is the inspiration for this work?

A few times I have stopped, looked around and tried to see what other people’s reactions to the piece is. Sometimes I see people looking at it, but many times I see them just walk by. ? I wonder how many people have actually stopped and looked at the work. ? Or if there were countless others like myself who tried to figure out what this piece represents.

One day I sat on the benches by the courtyard and decided to see who stopped and appreciated the work and who did not. From what I saw, I realized to many people this object was just invisible. ? Few people stopped to look at it. Most just walked around it, some appeared as if they would have bumped into it if it was not there.? Still I thought to myself ? had people just got used to its presence and where just passing it by.

Maybe it is just the hustle of everyday life or maybe it is the fact that art has lost its appeal over people recently. ? I say this because in tough times art is usually the first to go. ? I read in the Dallas Morning News, museum attendance is down. ? The arts are definitely suffering and people walking past this installation was the same.

Watching people walk by it made me think…I wonder if the creator of this piece knows is art has become an invisible structure.

-Posted By Praveen Sathianathan

Arts Beat: Crooked Tree Coffeehouse is Haven for Indie Kids and Mainstream Coffee Lovers Alike

February 28, 2009 by · Comments Off 

“Johnny Citizen” performing at Crooked Tree Coffeehouse Feb. 21 with local art showcased behind him.

Posted by Rachael Morgan

Sure, at Starbucks you can get a “The Way I See It” paragraph on the back of your cup. Maybe you’ll see someone you know as they run in and then out. You could even buy a stuffed plush… even if you can’t figure out how it possibly connects to a coffee store. But can you drink your coffee in an actual mug while looking at art from local artists and listening to live music?

My guess is no. That’s exactly what you can do at Crooked Tree Coffeehouse.

The coffeehouse features local art that is periodically changed, and on Friday and Saturday nights after eight it hosts live musical acts. You could claim a table and study, claim a couch with friends and play Uno or Trivial Pursuit (just a couple of games provided by the coffeeshop), or take a chance with the coffeeshop’s collection of books. Did I mention there is free WiFi?

Crooked Tree is an actual house with three rooms opened up to each other and estate sale decor. It serves a variety of coffee and non-coffee drinks as well as ice cream and vegan pastries. It’s located at 2414 Routh St, just a turn off from the cosmopolitan streets of Uptown.

Crooked Tree might actually be Dallas’ worst kept secret, with rave reviews from D Magazine and Dallas Daily Candy, and 30% off coupons in the SMU coupon book, but it still has the indie, non-mainstream vibe that makes you think you stumbled upon the EP of an unknown band with a small but loyal following.