Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ace Hotel: Good art in the wrong place

Sometimes art that is meant to charm does not. In the case of the newly renovated Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, the pencil drawings on the walls are rather incongruous with the hotel's design. It has to do with the content as much as the space. The Ace Hotel, designed by Roman Alonso, is a sleek nod to history and rife with sexy energy; the drawings by artistic duo The Haas Brothers are a combination of evocative, beautifully rendered portraits and playful cartoon animals adopting human behaviors. Both the design and artwork are laudable in their own right, but together a match they do not make.

Alonso's intentions of reflecting the freedom and funk of Los Angeles is admirable, but the brothers' contrasting styles in such a vintage-chic space had a clashing effect. I am anything but opposed to the bizarre and funky, but I don't think the space does justice to the art-- and vice versa.

In the scheme of things the disparity is paltry, not only because the pencil drawings have been well received by most, but because Ace Hotel's wonderful building is here to stay, and with it the United Artists theater. Both of these institutions are breathing cultural life into downtown's perimeter, along with the few restaurants and the newly opened Urban Outfitters in the historic Rialto Theater.

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