It’s no accident that, when guests enter the lobby of the AC Hotel by Marriott Spartanburgthey may feel as though they’re entering a museum.
Sightlines are open and expansive, the eye naturally drawn to the artwork on the milled walls and the sculptures tucked in various corners or suspended from the ceiling.
“This was all very intentional to have a full experience with the art when you walk in,” says Sarah Tignor, an expert in the artwork found in the hotel.
Tignor gestures in the direction of painter Robert Rauschenberg’s “Time and Ties” towering behind the front desk before pointing out an Untitled work from sculptor Ruth Asawa suspended above the elevator doors.
“We have an artist who is now ascending into the upper echelons of American art hanging here at the AC in Spartanburg,” Tignor says of the Asawa sculpture.
Not to mention, the 40 or so pieces on display are connected to Black Mountain College, a mid-2oth century arts enclave near Black Mountain, North Carolina.
All of the works are part of The Johnson Collection, one of America’s largest privately owned art collections. AC Hotel Spartanburg — which is owned by The Johnson family and managed by OTO Development — is one of many local, regional and national venues where the Collection’s artwork is on display.
For the average guest, a walk through the lobby or mezzanine is an education unto itself as each work of art comes with a wall placard offering crucial details about the piece and the artist who created it.
All except for the small, white soccer ball-shaped orb tucked in a glass case off the main lobby, a new addition that has yet to receive a placard but whose place in American history is firm.
“It’s a truncated icosahedron,” Tignor, COO of The Johnson Collection, says.
“A 20-sided shape.”
And the mind behind it?
A few feet away in the breakfast area, “Still Life with Fruit and Flowers on a Table,” from Robert De Niro Sr. (the father of actor Robert De Niro) perches above a table. So, enjoy your breakfast, take in a De Niro, Marvel at a Buckminster Fuller, pause in front of a Rauschenberg, then head out for the day.
Not your average hotel experience, indeed.
“It’s an aesthetic experience,” Tignor says. “This feels like a museum.”
Even hotel employees are trained to answer questions.
“We do training twice a year so the staff feels comfortable to engage if someone asks,” Tignor says. “We want to make sure everyone feels pride of ownership of the art that is here.”
If you go
AC Hotel by Marriott Spartanburg
225 W. Main St.
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Artists on display include: Robert De Niro, Sr., Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Sewell Sillman, Theodoros Stamos and Joseph Fiore