Art Hotel: Local Art Community Comes Together For Final Hurrah Before Demolition
Story & Photos By Aaris A. Schroeder
Built in the ’20s and once housing families and single unit apartments, The Jade apartment building now houses what is being called the Art Hotel (#ArtHotel916) at 1122 7th Street, located in the heart of the business district of Downtown Sacramento, right in the epicenter of where the new arena for The Kings is being built, Friday, Feb 5- Saturday, Feb 13 but not for long.
Local art muralist Shaun Turner came together with local investors and art collectives to offer something fresh for art lovers in a place that was more than old, it has been condemned. When you walk to 7th and L Street., you will see many buildings being demolished and if you are familiar with the old K Street Mall (Now hashtagged #OnKay), it will seem like a thing of the past. Even buildings going down K Street, including McDonald’s and The Hard Rock Cafe are being taken apart and replaced with new commercial retail and restaurant spaces. Long lost memories of a comic bookstore, record shop, boutiques, old liquor stores, alternative fitness and dance studios are just memories now.
“If it wasn’t for the new stadium and new money coming in tearing down shit I don’t think art hotel would have happened. There [are] definitely two sides to this coin… There’s [the] starving artist and a city starving for art culture… Gentrification is happening everywhere.” Says Bru Lei, local emcee, visual artist and co-creator of the project and film, “Good Hair” with JustLuv (Northern Cali Producer, known for working with Cole Rogers previously Agustus thElafant).
Behind all of the sponsors and contributors to ArtHotel is Turner, also known in the local art community as Shaun Burner. If you live downtown or spend a great amount of time in the Downtown area working or experiencing the downtown lifestyle then you have probably noticed some of his work. He is a graffiti artist turn muralist for over many years, he has made his mark in Sacramento. One mural that may stand out is the now defunct Tower Records store which he painted in memory of Tower when the building was owned by R5 Records, now Dimple Records. Burner had painted famous entertainers of the past, with a realist tone. Another one is located on 21th Street very close to the P Street block where Kris Gupton’s now defunct Shiny Nickel Art Gallery was held for a few years. He painted Salvador Dali.
So it was no wonder that Burner was the guy behind the idea of the Art Hotel. Bru Lei, one of Burner’s best friends and fellow artists and also local emcee by way of Ohio tells UBO MAG that Burner was “curious” about what was going on inside of the building back in September ’15 after he asked to throw up a mural on the outside of the old apartment building before it was demolished. Once he visited inside, seeing that each of the four floors were empty except for the current Property Manager, Bruce Presley’s apartment, ideas began to swarm in his head. Further yet, he learned that the owner was still paying to keep the lights on while waiting for the building to be demolished and be taken over by a Hyatt Hotel and retail facilities, Burner had a burning idea!
“He ran the idea by a few artists who quickly jumped out at the opportunity to acquire downtown studio space.” Bru Lei tells the story, sharing that Burner sat down with potential investors, explaining his vision of a temporary art space with crow funding as their major contributor, “He makes his own decisions after pondering the pro’s and cons and thinks with his heart to come up with solutions.”
Why not rent out apartment spots as art studios for artists, Burner thought. The building was empty, the owner was paying for electricity, water, gas, garbage; why not? Burner’s idea turned into what eventually became Art Hotel but not before going through a stressful fall season while he successfully launched 1810 Art Gallery and working on community murals. John Horton was the featured artist in January ’16 and even unique showings such as “52 HUES;” in December ’15; their largest show since they opened their doors, featuring 56-pieces created by 28 unique artists who sold their art for under $200 a pop.“
The Art Hotel is a thoughtfully curated gathering of local and international talent.“ According to 1810 Art Gallery’s Facebook page.
Hence why M5Arts Collective was created. What M5Arts is conceptually building is a space where locals and those nearby can see regional and worldwide artwork creations inside of an old apartment building. This is a temporary art installation as the building is scheduled to be demolished shortly after the doors are closed on ArtHotel, Saturday, Feb 13.
“A few months ago, when someone asked our purpose, we said this and it remains today, ‘Why are we doing this? To work. To create. To make something happen. To bring artists together. To inspire the community to do the same.’” says Concerts 4 Charity on the Facebook event page for ArtHotel916.
The crew of volunteers and those helping to organize from M5Arts along with 60 artists have worked hard, day and night, spending nearly $10,000 and over three months to create and build each installation that can be seen in 14 rooms. The old apartment building houses one-two room spaces that include a small kitchen and bathroom. Just enough space for a single tenant or a family of three-four people.
Artists from around the world painted and installed their own creation… turning each small space they were granted; maybe a bathroom, maybe a hallway, even a stairwell or larger bedroom into something magical and spectacular. Some spaces were gloomy, others were bright and colorful. A few seemed to be conjuring up long lost spirits who had lost their lives in the building and were trapped there, whereas others showcased portraits, murals, canvases even electronic devices with light shows, projectors and sound machines. Holes in the floor and wooden creatures stretching from one floor to the next (Burner’s creation) was not only unique but used what they had available as part of their canvas. Refrigerators and sinks painted, toilets and bathtubs remade, resembling something important, maybe in politics, art-world, religion, long lost pasts reflected and neglected beds and closets full of who knows what.
There seemed to be an ongoing theme of birds incorporated into each space and on hallways, possibly what was found when artists began their work three months earlier within four stories of rooms or perhaps a story from someone who lived in the Old Jade previously.
It was hard to get in as popularity grew. I traveled from the East Bay Area where I currently live (I have lived in the Sacramento area most of my life) to see this event and bump into old friends. It was amazing to see people coming from all over California, even Nevada City came up, and of course, local midtown folks.
Other artists have asked city officials if they can paint artistic murals over to-be torn-down buildings around the Sacramento area in the past but never an organized event like this that has been publicized to the general public. The idea of housing art installations for the public to view in an abandoned building scheduled to be demolished is a new idea in Sacramento.
This bright, new persuasion brought well over 12,000 people within nine days, many individuals never even got in and most who were able to view the inside of this building before demo began came bright and early before 11 am when tours began to form a line. Even Middle and High School students managed to have field trips scheduled and a representative would stand in line early to get a time for the group, in hopes to see this massive project first hand.
Media-wise, it seems that almost all local sources have set foot in ArtHotel, including local TV broadcast stations, ABC, NBC, FOX News and publications UBO MAG, Submerge Mag, Sacramento News & Review as well as many bloggers, photographers, dancers, models, musicians, fellow artists and art lovers. The passion was felt for ArtHotel. Ruhstaller Tasting Room (6th & K St.) hosted the bar and helped out with tickets (at first). Restaurants like Blackbird (9th near K Street), Broderick Restaurant (6th Street in West Sacramento) and Magpies (P and 16th Street) were donating food to feed artists and volunteers during long shifts seeming to last all morning and through the night.
“Art hotel was genius in my opinion because you checked in and checked out. People wanted it to last longer but didn’t and probably still don’t realize how much time and effort was put into making it as successful as it was,” states Bru Lei.
I found myself with my mom on her birthday at 10:30 am on Friday, the second-to-the-last day before closing down. We were able to get in by noon and thoroughly impressed, with smiles on our faces. All in all, there were no complaints from us. This is a learning process for all involved with this project for future demo art show tours and an amazing one at that! Even though everyone was hoping that a few extra days would be added for those who still have yet to view the Art Hotel, the crew involved decided to shut it down for good just as they promised on Feb 13.
“So there is no developer to plead with or people to persuade, there are no city officials to call on our projects behalf, this is our decision, and as hard as it will be to close the doors, we are all ready.” says Concerts 4 Charity who will be printing a coffee table book of all of the art featured and information about what they are up to next.