Beginning on Thursday of last week, my social media accounts started exploding with pictures of Daniel Funkhouser's hypnotizing installation piece "Familiar Glass with Theatrical Spectacle with Transparent Illusion and Artselfie." (With a title like that, who could resist?) The work was one of many included in this year's ARTELPHX, a festival of multi-media art installations and performance pieces that took over The Clarendon Hotel for three nights this past weekend.
For the most part, the art was top-notch (especially Funkhouser's piece), but any shortcomings in the artwork were generally overshadowed by the completely stunning experience of wandering through the hotel's external corridors to seek out the next installation.
ARTELPHX debuted in September of 2013 and is billed as the world's largest independent hotel art installation. The imaginative reuse of the hotel space is easily one of the coolest ideas I have heard of in a long time, and The Clarendon, with its beautiful Midcentury Modern architecture, is the perfect place to host such an endeavor. Watching other visitors hanging out on the patio was an art experience in itself.
Still, the art held its own, too; several of the works in this year's show were notable. In "How old are you, deep inside?" from the Aging Sucks series artist Valerie Hunt interacted directly with visitor's asking them how old they felt, stamping that age on their hands, and taking a photograph. The walls of her room were lined with negatives featuring hands with all sorts of ages. It was a beautiful, well-executed piece.
Katharine Leigh Simpson's "Divine Connection" was a bit more on the traditional side in comparison to the other work at ARTEL, but it was breathtaking nonetheless. The central sculptural work blossomed from the bed with delicate tails of paper elegantly tumbling to the ground.
There were multiple video/projection works, but I liked "Look at Me, Listen to Me, Speak to Me" the best. The collaborative piece by Ingrid Shults and Tain Barzso of Lab 238 had some really interesting real-time recording elements: visitors who looked through a pair of holes outside the room had their eyes projected on the entry wall for other people coming into the space.
If I could have one wish granted for the next ARTELPHX, it would be a public schedule of performance pieces. While the spontaneity of the performances did help create a sort of immersive, anything-could-happen vibe, it seemed like the only way to be sure to catch all of the acts was to stay for the full 4 hours of the event, so I ended up focusing more of my attention on the visual artwork.
Still, for an event that is relatively new, it went spectacularly. I'd like to think it can only get better from here.