21c is known for hosting rotating exhibitions, which travel to and from our sister properties like our current exhibition Dress Up, Speak Up: Regalia and Resistance, but did you know… each property also features their own site-specific and permanent installations? If you’ve visited our flock in Bentonville, then you’ve probably pretended to shoot a hoop through Alexandre Arrechea’s Orange Tree, or maybe you’ve posed for a pic with Serkan Özkaya’s 30 foot tall David (inspired by Michelangelo) at our flagship property in Louisville. No matter where you visit, if you stay at a 21c, you’ll find something to be curious about at every turn. Wondering about that outdoor chandelier you walk under on your way to the office every day or the brightly colored projections in our hallway that mysteriously disappear when you walk through them? We’re here to share those stories with you!
Look up as you approach the hotel entrance on Walnut Street and find yourself standing under Werner Reiterer’s, Untitled. Originally installed on 7th & Main with the Red Penguins in Louisville, Kentucky in 2006, this sculpture has been positioned in front of our doors since 2012. It was Reiterer’s first public sculpture in the United States, and if you listen closely, you may hear the chandelier breathing from above. The sculpture consists of a brass chandelier remotely connected to a bell located on the reception desk inside the hotel. When a visitor rings the bell, the chandelier begins to breathe in and out deeply while the lights simultaneously pulsate. This clever disconnect between artwork and unknowing participation by the visitor is one of the many ways the artist explores the notion of rules in art and the way visitors are intended to engage with art.
If you’ve stayed at a 21c, then you know about our penguins – it’s kind of our thing. Our owners Steve Wilson and Laura Lee stumbled upon these plastic penguins at the Venice Biennale in 2005 when they were installed across the city in conjunction with the celebrated international exhibition of contemporary art. They brought the red flock home, where they were included in the inaugural exhibition at 21c Louisville, Hybridity. Guests and visitors fell in love with the Red Penguins, prompting 21c to keep them on permanent view and to commission new penguins in a spectrum of colors for all 21c locations.
Sculpted from recycled plastic, the almost 4 ft. tall animal serves as a playful reminder of the importance of sustainability and environmental conservation. Our penguin, the Yellow Penguin embodies the spirit of 21c: on the color spectrum, the wavelength of yellow is one of the longest, reaching out to welcome guests and visitors. Also associated with images of the sun, the Yellow penguin represents the dawning of a new day, as 21c’s expansion began when the Cincinnati location opened in November 2012.
Take a walk around our building and find yourself in Gano Alley where you’ll also discover a hidden entrance to our rooftop Cocktail Terrace, which is disguised by a 15’x80′ mural. Vibrant Dreams was created in 2018 by way of collaboration between KIIK Create from Charlotte, NC and Cincinnati artist Jenny Ustick in partnership with BLDG Refuge. The mural is a hyper-colorful geometric experience, which leads the viewer through a portal to our freight elevator which will carry you up 11 stories to the urban oasis that is our rooftop where you can enjoy creative cocktails, food from our innovative raw bar and sweeping views during the summer months. Once you step out on terrace, be sure to look back and spot another mural – Her Hand to the Wind, Goldsammler by Jarrod Becker of BLDG.
Depending on when you visit, you may also stumble upon a pop up mural installation like Know What Your Voting For, a timely collaboration between 21c and Amplifier helped remind people what they were voting for in the 2020 Presidential Election. Follow us on Instagram to keep up with new installations and events happening in the alley!
Venture back into the building to check-in and gaze down at the Front Desk’s glass table top being held up by miniature human figures that were once part of Do Ho Suh’s, Floor Module. Best known for intricate sculptures that defy conventional notions of scale and site-specificity, Do Ho Suh draws attention to the ways viewers occupy and inhabit public space. When the piece was originally unveiled to the public in NY it was 10 times the size (of our desktop) and installed on the gallery floor, and visitors were encouraged to walk on top of the piece and contemplate the power of communities working together towards a common goal.
Turn around and find yourself drawn to the glowing hues of Grimanesa Amorós, Uros. Technology and nature meet in Grimanesa’s’ light sculpture, which is inspired by the floating Uros Islands, an ancient and sustainable island community on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, where the islands themselves, the homes, boats and tradable goods are made from the totora reeds that grow in abundance in the lake bed.
Head down the hall and walk through the projections of Brian Knep’s Healing Tiles. This installation uses custom software algorithms to create glowing pools of organic patterns that mimic human skin cells on the lobby’s hallway floor. Left alone, the patterns slowly pulsate and shift over the course of each day; when visitors walk across the Tiles the patterns tear apart and rebuild themselves, but never exactly as before, which means these Tiles hold a memory of all the visitors that have walked through this hallway.
Hop in the elevator and step into Anne Peabody’s Time Capsule. Through extensive research of the history of the building and the delicate process of etching into the palladium leafed glass panels, Peabody created an interactive experience that moves through both space and time. Depending on whether you are on elevator A or B, riders see their own reflections embedded in recreations of the elevator car as it was in 2008 or as it was in 1949, as they move from floor to floor.
Recognize this artist’s name? If you’ve visited 21c Louisville, you might be familiar with another 21c semi-permanent installation: Wheel of Fortune.
Make a stop on the second floor to see more gallery space and find yourself in the nine-story interior solarium. Look up and see Astrid Krogh’s Lightmail, a series of iridescent tapestries that quietly glow in a constantly changing rainbow of colors. The fibers are connected to powerful illuminators that radiate the lights in sequence, creating an ever-changing flow of colors, which are further enhanced and altered by changes in atmospheric light in the surrounding environment.
In need of a recharge? Head to the Spa at 21c (entrance located on the 10th floor of the hotel) where you’ll find Ryan Wolfe’s Field of Grass. These intricate devices (each sprouting a long blade of grass) cover the walls of the stairwell, distilling and recreating the feel of a windswept, grassy expanse. The movement of the blades are activated by wind data so that viewers can watch and listen as a gust of air moves across the entire installation.
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