by Matt Alderton | March 30, 2018
These days, people don't want to merely attend meetings; they want to actively participate in them. That desire for engagement spans all aspects of the meeting, from education sessions where attendees can interact with their peers to food and beverage programs where they can interface with the chef. As it turns out, it even extends to venues, some of which have found a unique medium through which to sate attendees' craving for interactivity, immersion, and involvement: art.
Although viewing art is often a passive, solitary endeavor, art-forward hotels have found a way to make it hands-on and social. By hosting "artists in residence," they have activated art in a way that makes it more accessible and interesting to meeting groups, which can leverage onsite artists as speakers, facilitators, tour guides, coaches, collaborators, and, of course, muses.

Here are five venues whose artist-in-residence programs promise to unleash attendees' inner creativity:

Grand Hyatt Baha Mar (Nassau, The Bahamas)
There's no shortage of beautiful things to look at in The Bahamas. At Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, however, there's more for the eye to enjoy than gorgeous ocean views: There are more than 2,500 paintings, sculptures, and experimental installations by local artists, whose work comprises one of the largest collections of Bahamian art in The Bahamas. Overseen by mixed-media artist John Cox, former chief curator of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, the collection lives in The Current, a comprehensive art space that encompasses a working studio, a fluid gallery, a library, and a retail outlet. Along with guided tours, special exhibitions, and art classes, The Current hosts an art residency program for local and international artists who are invited to follow their artistic pursuits in the aforementioned studio space. Participating artists produce exhibitions, give lectures, and lead workshops, giving guests an intimate look at art both in The Bahamas and around the world.

The Vendue (Charleston, SC)

Cities often inspire art. Anyone who's been to cities like Paris, Rome, or Prague, however, knows that some cities also are art. Charleston, SC, is also one such city. It's no surprise, then, that it's home to a thriving community of artists -- a fact that's celebrated front and center at The Vendue, which calls itself "Charleston's art hotel." Along with an onsite art docent, daily art tours, and two to three different exhibits per year -- each of which takes over its public spaces -- the hotel is the first in Charleston to have an artist in residency program.

The Vendue's current artist in residence is Belgium-born artist Fred Jamar, whose work is dominated by Charleston cityscapes. The second artist to utilize The Vendue's working studio -- located in the lobby of 26 Vendue, one of two buildings that constitute the hotel -- he has been based at the property for over two years and interacts with hotel guests daily during tours of his studio. He also makes weekly appearances during the Manager's Reception, a complimentary art-themed reception that takes place each afternoon with wine and canapés.

The Pfister Hotel (Milwaukee, WI)

When The Pfister Hotel opened in 1893, builder Charles Pfister envisioned a grand space that would impress visitors and locals alike with its luxurious amenities and its sophisticated sense of culture. Along with cutting-edge technology like fireproofing, electricity, and in-room thermostat controls, he therefore adorned the extravagant hotel from top to bottom with fine art. One-hundred-and-twenty-five years later, The Pfister's artistic tradition continues. In addition to its highly acclaimed Victorian art collection -- the largest of its kind in any hotel in the world -- the hotel boasts a 10-year-old artist-in-residence program that lasts from April 1 to March 31 every year. During their yearlong residency, artists occupy the hotel's working studio, where they create masterful works that are subsequently featured in the hotel's art gallery. Artists spend at least 30 hours a week onsite and actively participate in "Gallery Night and Day," a popular art event in Milwaukee that takes place every quarter, when art patrons spend Friday night and Saturday daytime hopping between participating art galleries.

This year's artist in residence is Milwaukee-based fashion designer Stephanie Schultz (pictured), whose couture and avant-garde fashions are inspired by antique art and architecture. During her residency, Schultz says she plans to design a fashion line inspired by the hotel's Victorian art collection, pieces of which she plans to transpose onto fabric in order to create wearable art.

The Skirvin Hilton (Oklahoma City, OK)

The Pfister's artist in residence program has been so successful that owner Marcus Hotels & Resorts has exported it to other properties in its portfolio, including Oklahoma City's Skirvin Hilton Hotel. Like The Pfister, the Skirvin is a historic property with a long tradition at the center of local arts and culture. Originally opened in 1911, it was restored to its former glory in 2007 and according to Historic Hotels of America -- of which it's a member -- has since established itself as "a true barometer for what's fashionable and happening in the heart of the city." Its artist-in-residence program, known as the Skirvin Paseo Artist Creativity Exposition (SPACE), perfectly reflects the Skirvin's role as cultural ambassador. Like The Pfister's program, it's a yearlong residency during which local artists have the opportunity to create art in the hotel's working art studio, then showcase it onsite.

This year's SPACE resident is Marissa Raglin, a visual artist who's currently working in analog collage and resin. During her residency, she plans to create a new body of "ethereal, whimsical" collage works. In addition to watching it, guests can get in on the art action themselves by stopping by Raglin's studio and creating their own postcard using vintage imagery.

Ace Hotel New York (New York, NY)

Although it's teeming with brilliant and enterprising artists, New York City can be a hard place to be creative. Sure, it has inspiration in spades, but it's also expensive, hurried, and crowded -- all of which can make it hard for budding artists to find the time, space, and resources they need in order to create their art. It's that reality that inspired it to establish its "Artists in Residence" series, according to Ace Hotel New York, which has a unique take on the artist-in-residence concept. Instead of hosting artists for a week, a month, or a year, it hosts them for a single night every Sunday. "We invite an artist to stay every Sunday night, to create, and on Monday morning we see what they've made," the hotel explains on its website.

Since 2014, Ace Hotel New York has partnered with more than 250 artists, each of which received a modest tab and access to a cart full of art supplies during their stay. To get a taste for whom it hosts, consider its April 2018 lineup: Mira Moore, who specializes in avant-garde jewelry and objects for the body; Christopher Lineberry, an interdisciplinary artist who describes his work as "[investigating] social and political narratives through cultural histories of play"; Georgina Arroyo, a visual artist whose work focuses on exploration of self in the digital age; and Kirsten McNally, a multi-disciplinary artist whose work seeks to "reshape fact, fiction, memory, and imagination."