The pace is set, no doubt, by Marty Collins, president and CEO of Gatehouse Capital Corporation. The dynamic team masterminded by Collins to create the new W Hollywood includes HKS Architects, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, Sussman/Prejza, designstudio, Daly Genik and cutting-edge fine artists Erwin Redl, Pae White and Christian Moeller, who were commissioned to create three art installations in three different locations on the property. This fusion of art, design, venue and experience makes the W Hotel the signature destination for the urban elite.
Tiffiny Lendrum of Lendrum Fine Art, an art consulting firm based in Los Angeles, is the curator behind the selection of the talented artists chosen to create the Hollywood W’s fine art installations. Providing comprehensive art programs for public projects, hotels, corporate offices and private collectors is what Lendrum is known for. With the W Hollywood, she looked for artists whose works would complement the architecture and be “strong by day, sparkling by night.” When Collins asked Lendrum what she thought would work at the W Hollywood, Lendrum chose two Los Angeles artists for the W’s Hollywood debut.
The artists chosen by the W Hollywood team have different personalities, approaches and media, but they share a common goal to create fresh, interactive experiences for the participant with light, color, sound, and structure. It’s all made possible by the exciting marriage of art, architecture and technology.
Christian Moeller, a Frankfurt-born, Los Angeles-based artist, is known for creating experiential spaces with light, sound, motion and digitally mastered sculptural elements.
When deciding what to create for the W Hollywood, Moeller was led away from a subject he frequently works with—namely, faces. Moeller often uses portraits of ordinary people in his large-scale reliefs that utilize the effect of light and shadow. However, in this instance, Moeller knew that if he used faces in Hollywood, it could be distracting, leading viewers to such questions as: “Who is that?” or “Who are these actors?”
So, in collaboration with German photographer Harold Schröder, Moeller developed an idea that emphasized the next most expressive part of the human body: the hands. Moeller asked Schröder to take a picture of “young people pushing against glass,” as if attempting to cross a boundary. The artist finds it to be an appropriate theme for the Hollywood location, and the effect is indeed relevant and engaging.
Moeller describes this series of works as “bitmap graphics.” Playing with the notion that the viewer’s perception is dependent on point of view, up close the precise bitmap pattern is just that—a pattern. However, when viewed from afar and due to the shadows cast by the raised bitmap pattern, a trompe-l’œil optical illusion occurs and the images can be perceived with the clarity created by distance. It’s a beautiful visual analogy for many of life’s experiences.
Moeller’s piece is a monochromatic, cast-aluminum wall eight feet high by 32 feet long and integrated into the W Hollywood’s plaza area alongside the red carpet entryway. What creates the image is the play of light and shadow on the raised relief, which “changes its ductose according to the sun’s position” or the placement of directional light.
Moeller’s approach at the W Hollywood and elsewhere is fearless, and he maintains that “art plays the important role of creating a dialogue between people, whether it’s sharing a beautiful experience or talking about a controversy, all of this is very welcome.”
Redl’s installation for the W Hollywood is a canopy “wave of lights” situated overhead when you pass through the motor court. One shape and one color, this 170-foot-long, architecturally driven installation consists of over 40,000 white LEDs on a six-inch grid and is designed, says Lendrum, to create “a sense of arrival.”
“Art points to a bigger whole,” Redl explains. He aims to “arrest people and create a sense of wonder” with his work, “transcending the individual experience into a knowing that we are a part of a bigger whole, that there is something that ties us together as beings.”
“My medium is light,” says Redl. “I was surprised to be asked to create an exterior installation since I have to fight the elements and compete against the sun. Those are tough competitors, but the scale of the project was very intriguing.”
Redl’s installation appeals to that primal wonder that we all have when we look up at the stars at night. The effect is orchestrated here with modern, minimalist precision, and the installation is startlingly location-appropriate.
What do people come to Hollywood for? Either to be or see stars or just bask in some Hollywood-style glamour. Redl’s installation doesn’t disappoint.
“Ideally, an artwork is an expansive experience for the viewer,” Los Angeles artist and native Pae White explains. White is best known for her mobile-like sculptures, which bring to mind the ethereal effect of watching a school of shimmering fish.
For the W Hollywood, White is creating a “hanging garden, suspended in the air between the hotel and residence buildings,” suggestive of organic elements where there are none. Says White, “These are garden elements; this came out of visiting a county fair.”
As she tells it, White likes to meditate on where a piece is to be installed while she is creating. At the W, she was led to create a piece that exists between “the hard geometry of the buildings and within the geography of Hollywood Boulevard with all the lights and all the expectations—a piece that will grab, hold and spin the light from Hollywood Boulevard.”
The artist describes her installation as “five strands of architectural ornament that spin and radiate, vertically spanning ten floors and creating an anisotropic effect.” It’s a multi-dimensional, mixed media installation with kinetic parts and, as such, it has undergone extensive testing due to anticipated interaction with the elements—especially wind—which could create “unintended sound.”
White enjoys the level of absurdity her work evokes as “an exploration of movement contained.” The effect is light, whimsical (reminiscent of Klee) and playful—like frozen waterfalls. When asked how she hopes to affect the viewer, White concludes, “Perhaps the artwork will lead them astray.”
Images By © 2010 Mark Paul Photography.