An “urban resort” hotel? With an artist-in-residence (AIR) program featuring local artists? In Cleveland? If you’ve been around E. 9th and Euclid Ave. lately, you might not be surprised. The former AmeriTrust tower and historic Cleveland Trust Rotunda have undergone a major facelift, inside and out, and the complex is now home to The 9.
“When we initially created the AIR program in association with the art gallery, we wanted to provide our guests and the local community with another answer to the question ‘Why The 9?’” explains Keith Halfman, Principal & Chief Operating Officer of Geis Hospitality Group. “Local art is an expression of the community, and Cleveland has a large pool of talent. Starting with Michelle, we look forward to the program and our resident artists helping establish The 9 as a destination in Cleveland.”
Recently, the hotel announced local photographer Michelle Murphy as their first resident artist. Jessica Newell’s sky paintings and Herb Ascherman’s photography are the first Cleveland-based artists being exhibited in the nearby gallery space. Both the AIR program and the exhibiting artists will rotate every four months.
Michelle Murphy is a perfect fit as the program’s first resident artist. Murphy graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2004. By day, she is a photographer at the NASA Glenn Research Center. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, as well as exhibitions in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Geneva (Switzerland) and Guatemala City. In her free time, she co-curates the online magazine MAKE8ELEIVE with Swiss artist/designer Cetusss. When she’s not sleeping, she’s the force behind Micro Art Space at 78th Street Studios. Micro Art Space is an exhibition space featuring short-term artist residencies, so Murphy knows a thing or two about them.
“The mood and aesthetic at The 9 is handsomely modern and filled with captivating people,” says Murphy. “It is my pleasure to create artwork for (and with) this audience. I invite the guests into my contemporary practice and I know that we will both learn something new about ourselves in the process. In Getting Happy, the process of creating the artwork becomes part of the final exhibited work. An audience is imperative as they become both the model and the viewer of the performative photo and video series.”
Getting Happy is designed as an interactive experience; encouraging audience participation. Murphy will turn the “glass box” studio space (located between the Alex Theater and Ledger Bar) into a “public art laboratory.” Murphy has created a lighting studio environment to photograph and film visitors Getting Happy – giving each other hi-fives, participating in smiling exercises and utilizing various party favors. Over the course of the residency, Murphy will incorporate this footage into a video that will play continuously inside the studio.
“The Artist in Residence program is an exciting opportunity for an artist to have a studio space within the Metropolitan Hotel at the 9 - a chance to explore new work, interact with guests and visitors and have access directly to collectors,” adds AIR program director Christy Gray of Grayhaus Studios. “Michelle Murphy is the perfect fit for the first Artist in Residence. She has a laboratory space in her studio that, combined with her energy and vibrancy, is creating an interactive experience for both her vision and the guests.”
The hotel will host a reception to celebrate Murphy’s residency on Thursday, Nov. 13 at 6pm. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend. Stop by The 9, and become part of the art. November’s resident artist at Micro Art Space will be Cleveland-based Robin Latkovich. She will present Robin's new work at 78th Street Studios’ Third Friday open house on Friday, Nov. 21.
(Full disclosure: Usmani will be the second artist in the Metropolitan’s AIR program. His residency will take place from Feb. through May)