William M. Dowd video & photos

LOUISVILLE, KY -- Well, at least these kinetic air-blown sculptures (in video above) were doing that to amuse visitors to the 21c Museum Hotel in the heart of downtown.

21c (for 21st Century) combines support for present-day artists with a first-class hotel and dining establishment that is the forerunner of several more to be constructed. It also is a perfect spot for the visitor not up to a lot of walking, whether due to laziness, preference or disability. That's because there is art everywhere in the 91-room hotel.

The hotel's 9,000-square-foot contemporary art museum, funded and managed by the International Contemporary Art Foundation, and its restaurant/bar Proof On Main make it an ideal spot for a leisurely stop in an otherwise bustling neighborhood.

Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown, local investors and contemporary art collectors, conceived and bankrolled the property which opened in April 2006, and they're extending the idea to other locations as well, beginning with a project in Austin, TX. When it opens in 2011, it will contain a luxury hotel, high-end condominiums, a contemporary art museum, a restaurant, and artist lofts.

The original is, as I heard one person describe it, "a hoot." From the moment you enter, you're hit with in-your-face art. A sculptured family gathered around a sculpture dinner table, a film of a sleeping -- albeit restless -- couple is shown on the floor, projected from a ceiling device.

And, speaking of ceilings, if you look up you'll see what appears to be a mountain climber on the ceiling of the lobby.

Original art adorns the walls of each of the comfortable rooms, as well as the public spaces and meeting rooms throughout the complex.

(* - Internet shorthand for "rolling on the floor, laughing my ass off.)


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