Street art has developed into a highly appreciated art form, no longer just the graffiti of train cars and underpasses. Now, you find street art everywhere. It seems Banksy was not the only one wanting to be somebody on this scene. What was once criminal and considered an eyesore is now adorning interior spaces for the most highbrow and fetching high prices for a select few artists.
Restaurants and hotels have been quick to embrace the medium for intriguing coloration of vast expanses of otherwise boring wall space. For years now, hospitality venues around the world have been curating street art. The unique form of expression provides interest to visitors while often communicating even political themes.
Street Art in Hotel Zetta
A good example of this commissioning of youthful urban artists is the Hotel Zetta in San Francisco. Zetta started a project in April 2015 as an Instagram contest called #ZettaMurals. From submissions, the hotel primaries selected nine artists and groups to fill a seven-floor staircase with creative murals. Now called the 7-Story Canvas, this stairwell has become as known as the hotel, itself.
It is engaging to step into a space colorized through street art, as vibrancy and curved edges tend to imbibe the feeling of stepping into a cartoon landscape. The art as a whole is incredibly detailed and inspiring, with so much depth and emotion evoked using gallons or spray cans of paint. One artist of the Hotel Zetta’s body of work, Buff Monster, describes his style as “characterized by happy characters living in brightly-colored bubbly landscapes.” How can such a depiction be anything but engaging and upbeat?
The third floor of Hotel Zetta’s stairwell is filled with imagery by Deb, an Australian artist who once spent her time painting building exteriors, box cars and vans. The stairwell’s eighth floor is Elle’s domain. Elle is a Brooklyn-based artist who is known for using a vast palette of colors.
But before anyone starts to think everything is rosy and bright, Pemex of Southern California steps in to cover the walls of one floor with a sort of “savage” darkness. Another dark humored soul, Steiner paints angry seals and words of warning on the fifth floor of the trendy hotel.
Street Art: Other Hotels as Canvases
As far as the street art trend goes, Hotel Zetta was far from the first. Many other guest service venues worldwide have jumped aboard the graffiti train. SLS Hotels in South Beach and Las Vegas are both internally inked or tagged, depending upon how you view the art. While the South Beach location is more subtle, the SLS Las Vegas property features the Foxtail Lounge, which appears to tattooed from floor to ceiling.
The Alexander Hotel in Indianapolis features a wide variety of art styles and mediums in partnership with the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Street art is just one of those mediums, with several spaces fully charged with intense colors. Briton Nick Walker filled the parking garage with his talent, just as other artists have works displayed throughout the property.
Among the more timid and non-committal for wall space, yet still providing a venue for street art display, the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Minnesota uses a canvas and gallery approach to its sizeable works. Of course trends come and go, so there is no blame to be exerted for their conservative style. The end result is a very upscale urban aesthetic.
Where the Radisson Blu is a bit conservative, NU Hotel Brooklyn is all-in. This boutique gem of a hotel in the heart of Brooklyn exudes the creative style of the borough’s inhabitants through several guest rooms with full-sized murals. Each piece is so different that one guest can stay in multiple rooms over several stays and gain a different view of city life from within each.
San Francisco’s Hotel des Arts in the city’s French Quarter takes things a step farther than most, with some eyebrow raising versions on their guest room walls. Brightly colored with one even exclaiming, “Lick it up, Bitch,” these creative spaces are not for everyone. But for those who appreciate the true effect of street art, there may be none more authentic than this hotel’s versions.
Where Street Art Meets Table Service
Restaurants are also in the mix, when it comes to the vibrant palettes and edgy themes of street art. Perhaps the best example of this melding exists in Houston at Izakaya-Midtown, a Japanese gastropub featuring the works of local tattoo artist Catfish Perez.
A hip depiction of Gandhi with three different colored sunglasses is portrayed by street artist Alex Cherry in Badmaash Indian gastropub in Los Angeles. The sizable mural adorns the restaurant’s mezzanine walls while Bollywood posters and other types of art exist throughout the cool eatery.
At Los Angeles’ Tacos Tu Madre, the Day of the Dead reigns over every day, both inside and out. The taco eatery’s exterior is fully emblazoned with imagery, while the inside is a bit more controlled and concise. Inside, works of The Art of the Chase – a Belgian-born artist – are displayed.
Other restaurants now under construction are expected to bring their own murals of what was once street art. One of those, Chesapeake & Main of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, features the art of Jon Langford, formerly a member of a British punk rock band called The Mekons. Langford’s nautically-themed works include depictions of musical artists featured on the restaurant’s playlist. Billie Holiday and Miles Davis are two of this collection.