The last decade has seen many neighborhoods affected by the strike of gentrification. Acquired by over-greedy real estate developers, sadly condemned to meet the good ol’ wrecking ball fate, a slew of mid-century motels are demolished to make way for cookie-cutter luxury condo developments. Here we see the motel transformed into art to give the old structures a new lease on life.
Art Motel in Las Vegas, NV (Town Lodge Motel)
Held annually since its 2013 inauguration, Life Is Beautiful is a three-day festival whose aim is to bring the worlds of live music, culinary, and art together right in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. As part of the art component of the festival, the Town Lodge Motel was converted into the fittingly-named Art Motel, serving as a temporary urban canvas to exhibit the craft of over 30 established and emerging local and international artists. Delivering stunning visuals ranging from vibrant murals, paintings, photography and interactive audio/visual installations, these artists come together to engage every inch of the motel from the courtyard to the 21 rooms. The motel transformed into something completely new.
“Projection” in Silver Lake, CA (Sunset Pacific Motel)
Nicknamed the ‘Bates Motel’ by locals due to its Sunset Boulevard and Bates Avenue corner location, Silver Lake’s Sunset Pacific Motel had been abandoned for decades when the city approved demolishment of the crumbling property. Enter contemporary French artist Vincent Lamouroux who in 2015 saw the abandoned seedy motel as the perfect canvas for his ephemeral installation Projection. Describing the conceptual project as a “temporal intervention into an iconic piece of LA’s architectural history and urban lore”, the contemporary artist used an ecologically safe white lime wash to completely cover the Sunset Pacific motel’s structure from the walls, doors, and railings to the iconic neon sign, billboard, and surrounding palm trees. Over night, a motel transformed into an awe-inspiring art exhibit: What was once considered one of LA’s most dangerous location (it had become a harbour for homelessness, drug dealing, and prostitution) was instantly metamorphosed into a minimalist yet mesmerizing temporary open-air work of art. The motel has since reverted back to it’s seedy appearance due to cracks, chipping paint and graffiti. No information on when/if it will be demolished anytime soon so if you’re ever visiting Silver Lake, this could be a worthy stop.
“NadaDada Motel” in Reno, NV (Various Motels)
Get a Room, Make a Show!
In an effort to turn the spotlight on Reno’s flourishing art scene, neon sign artist Jeff Johnson, dreamed up NadaDada Motel, an annual artist-produced art festival held at various old motel locations in the city’s downtown district. A reactionary riposte to mega art fest, Artown, the unconventional idea is to convert motel court-style rooms into makeshift galleries giving local artists the opportunity to hold their very own art exhibitions. Here, the motel transformed into the perfect canvas for artists. Since its 2006 inception, numerous Reno locations have played host to the end-of-June art-centric happening including the Town House Motor Lodge, the El Ray Motel, The City Center Motel, and the Keno Motel just to name a few. All are open to regular guests the rest of the year.