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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

The Little Friends of Printmaking piece is found in Ace's New York City location.

Milwaukee artists contribute to Ace Hotels' style statement


A stay in a hotel while traveling is sometimes a luxurious reprieve from the stresses of everyday responsibilities; someone makes your bed, someone makes you breakfast and the jets in the tub make for a relaxing end to the evening.

Then again, some hotels leave something to be desired when it comes to comfort (or even cleanliness, eek!) and if you're on a budget, chances are you're likely to be stuck with the latter.

That is, unless you happen to be traveling in Seattle, Portland, Palm Springs or New York City. What do these cities have that the rest of the world doesn't? Ace Hotels.

If you're unfamiliar with the brand, Ace is a small chain of boutique hotels that cater to the "creative class" by offering stylish rooms complete with high-end amenities -- San Pellegrino Aranciata from the vending machine, anyone? -- for a fraction of the cost of commercial four- and five-star hotels.

Every room in each of the four hotels is custom designed; some come with turntables, others Smeg-brand refrigerators, making it feel more like a stay with friends than a hotel. Each room is then individualized by original artwork from young artists from around the county, including Milwaukee.

Husband and wife duo James and Melissa Buchanan are perhaps better known as Milwaukee's Little Friends of Printmaking. Maybe you've seen them at Art vs Craft; then again, maybe you've recognized their graphics on "Guitar Hero I and II."

Ace Hotel's New York City cultural engineer Jou-Yie Chou knew he had a room just waiting for their creative touch.

"I first discovered Little Friends of Printmaking through the Art Directors Club (ADC). Noémie Bonnet of the ADC had sent me some suggestions of artists for rooms from past Young Guns Winners. (Young Guns is an annual series that the ADC puts on to discover new talented designers and art directors.) They've done a lot of poster and album work for the music industry, (including) Deerhoof and Death Cab for Cutie.

"For the hotel they created a fun two-color screen print that is both simple and dynamic at the same time. For me, they speak a bit to the rat race of NYC."

Melissa Buchanan agrees.

"For our murals, we wanted to do something fairly simple and take advantage of what we could do with silkscreen that would be harder to do with painting. Because of their Midtown location, we thought of the busy crosswalks near Penn Station and decided to do something with a crush of commuters layered one on top of the other. In the look of the figures, we tried to play off the retro-futuristic aesthetic of Ace Hotels -- we gave them sharp-brimmed hats but also modern coffee cups and smartphones.

"Obviously, being design junkies, we had for years been fascinated with Ace Hotel in Portland and the whole idea of an inexpensive hotel for a younger crowd filled with art. We were very pleased to be asked to contribute artwork for their newest hotel in Manhattan."


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