Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Touring Hotel Murano

Lobby with “Pianist’s Dress” by Karen LaMonte and chandelier by Massimo Micheluzzi

I recently enjoyed a docent tour of Hotel Murano in Tacoma with docent Kathy Hillig and my wife and sister-in-law. As regular readers of my column in the Weekly Volcano know, I am not a huge fan of glass art per-se but I am a huge fan of good art in any form or media, and the glass art in the Hotel Murano collection is among the best in the world. It is beautifully displayed in the lobby, the restaurant, all public areas including a featured artist on every floor, and even in the public restrooms. The Murano is a welcoming place. Its art collection is not there just for the enjoyment of hotel guests but is displayed for anyone who wants to see it. Feel free to wander into the lobby at your leisure, take the elevator up to the 25th floor and work your way down to see artworks by Martin Blank, whose massive sculpture graces the pool outside the Museum of Glass; Dante Maioni; Susan Taylor Glasgow, an artist with whom I was not previously familiar but whose work bowled me over; Miriam De Fiore’s funky-funny “Remember Me in January”; and William Morris, perhaps my favorite glass artist of all time.
Viking Boats by Vibeke Skov in the Grand Corridor
Step out of the elevator on the top floor and you are immediately faced with a black glass wall. To the left is a lighted, recessed display case with one of Morris’s mysterious and shamanistic animal figures. On the black glass is engraved information about the artist, which is strikingly dramatic. On the walls throughout the hallway are large photographs of Morris at work in his studio.
Morris creates sculptures in glass of animals, skeletons and other artifacts that appear to be from an archeological find which look like they are made from metal, rock and bone — anything but glass.
Each floor of the hotel features the same set-up: one highlighted work of art, engraved statements about the artist and photographs of the artist at work.
Preston Singletary on the 19th floor is well known in the Pacific Northwest as a Native American artist who combines traditional Northwest Coastal Indian art with modern glass techniques.
Glasgow’s 14th floor exhibit features a woman’s bustier of the type that might have been worn in the 1800s in white glass. She creates women’s clothing in glass that mimics the look of cotton and lace, and she creates glass household items such as irons and toasters from earlier eras in similarly “stitched” glass.
Guest floor display – William Morris
Marioni’s blown glass vessels on the 14th floor are elegant, tall and flawlessly constructed with a bright yellow surface.
Di Fiore”s “Remember Me in January” is a glass sculpture of a bowling pin that is bent to lay across a bowling ball like a passed-out, drunken man. It is a cartoon-like object in red, white and black.
In the lobby there is a marvelous glass figure by Karen LaMonte, who locals might remember from her show at Museum of Glass a few years ago. She makes “empty” dresses with figures in them — hard to describe in words. The dresses have openings for arms and neck and are positioned as if there is a body inside but no body parts can be seen except for very realistic body shapes underneath the flowing material of the gown. Anyone who has never any of her work should avail themselves of the chance to see her “Pianist’s Dress” at Hotel Murano.
Also shown in the lobby and Grand Corridor are works by Brent Kee Young, Dale Cihuly, Davide Salvadore, Cappy Thompson and many others.
The art collection at Hotel Murano is something unique in all the world. Tacoma and South Sound residents are fortunate to be able to visit it.

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