Brand new Ace Hotel Brooklyn is entwined with fibre art
The Ace Hotel’s second New York outpost opens in Brooklyn with a programme of newly-commissioned textile art. We speak to curator and featured artist Niki Tsukamoto
Unlike its flamboyant older sibling in Manhattan, the brand new Ace Hotel Brooklyn exudes an understated, original charm: a home-from-home with all the trimmings, particularly when it comes to art.
Behind its Roman and Williams and Stonehill Taylor-designed brutalist facade, and the cascading light fixture inspired by Tokyo’s Hotel Okura is a new in-room art programme that narrates the history of Brooklyn through fibre art. Inside the 287 guest rooms – inspired by the raw artist studio spaces of the European modernists – hangs the work of two dozen contemporary textile artists with deep ties to the district’s rich tapestry.
But this festival of fibre art is far from confined to the guest rooms. In the hotel’s ground floor gallery space is a public exhibition by artist and designer Cynthia Alberto and Brooklyn based weaving studio and healing arts centre, Weaving Hand.
In September and October, the gallery will host a group show by the in-room art programme artists. In November, timed to NYC Design Week, the space will be taken over by Black Folks in Design, and the textile art series will reach its finale in December with an experimental show by the Textile Art Center.
Ace commissioned longtime collaborator Niki Tsukamoto, an artist who also created original works for the guest rooms, to curate Ace’s fibre art project. We speak to Tsukamoto about weaving the threads of this project to life.
Wallpaper*: How was the project conceived and what inspired it?
Niki Tsukamoto: At the end of Summer 2019, Ace Hotel reached out, asking if I would be interested in curating fibre-based art for the in-room art program for a new hotel. I’ve been working in fibre for over 20 years and had been on hiatus from my curatorial work for a few years, so I was extremely interested in the project. When it was later revealed that the hotel was in Brooklyn I was ecstatic. I have so many dear friends living in Brooklyn, it’s been my home away from home for the past 25 years and I love it dearly. That coupled with the opportunity to work with an incredible array of textile artists living and working there currently, the offer was almost too good to be true.
Wallpaper*: How were the artists selected for the Textile and Fibre Art Programme; were there any particular criteria?
NT: Representing the community was of the utmost importance to me when approaching the initial curatorial concept. Rather than looking for cohesion in form or style, my main focus was on including an array of current working artists and telling the recent history of the fibre art movement in Brooklyn – the artists reflect a modern reality of New York, ranging from those locally born and raised to the somewhat new arrivals, artists with deep roots in community service and activism, as well as people who transition in and out of the city and carry with them lasting love for Brooklyn.
The varied styles of work are a clear reflection of the way the city influences and inspires people in such different ways. Beyond artists connected to the immediate community, we included certain artists in the program to provide much-needed humour, wit and levity that the Ace is known for.
Wallpaper*: What do you hope the programme will offer guests of the Ace Brooklyn?
NT: Having such a diverse group of artists creating such vastly different work offers a very different experience depending on the guest’s room. When someone checks into their hotel room, they may experience a work filled with humour and wit or a piece whose meaning is embedded within colour and texture. The varied styles of work are also a clear reflection of the way the city influences and inspires people in such different ways.
I wanted the feeling of the community to permeate the hotel and connect from room to room, like a thread running up and through the building. I hope the program will also inspire and produce a sense of curiosity in the people staying in the hotel, which will lead them to learn more about the individual artists and fibre art as a whole.
Wallpaper*: What was the most enjoyable part of working with the artists and Ace Brooklyn on the project?
NT: The most enjoyable aspect of working on this project has without a doubt been being in a community with so many incredibly talented and inspiring people and building lasting relationships. It’s also been a dream to bring more attention to the artists’ individual art practices and to focus solely on fibre art for the whole scope of the project. After personally working in fibre for over 20 years, it is very moving to see fibre and textile artists receiving well-deserved attention.
Co-curating the current show in Ace’s lobby Gallery — Cynthia Alberto and Weaving Hand — and the upcoming September group gallery exhibition of the artists who contributed to the hotel has been so satisfying. It will allow the viewers to reconceptualise art inside the guest rooms and hopefully create a deeper understanding of the artist’s work. §