The Phoenix Hotel, as my friend Madi put it, is a Tender-fab diamond in the ‘loin’s rough. An oasis on skid row, its palm trees, Warhol-inspired pool, and mod sculpture garden cry out for a party. According to Frommer’s, David Bowie, Keanu Reeves, Moby, Franz Ferdinand, and Interpol have all graced the sequined halls and pleather lounge chairs of the Phoenix.
The hotel already has local art in each of its 44 rooms, but staff cleared the decks on May 19 and 20 for ArtPad SF. Each suite was stripped of furniture and transformed into its own mini-gallery. Paintings, photos, videos, and sculptures filled every available space—including the closets and bathrooms.
There were Jessica Hess’ photorealistic scenes of urban decay, Derek James Lynch’s sketchy landscapes, and Philip Lawson’s resin replicas of AK-47s. Madi even got to meet one of her favorite illustrators Paul Madonna, author of the comic series “All Over Coffee” and illustrator of A Writer's San Francisco: A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul.
In a typical SF pairing of high-brow and kitsch, posh and irreverent, Zagat solicited input about its restaurant ratings in the courtyard, while Scott Scheidly’s paintings of Hitler and Kim Jong Il as gay icons entertained guests indoors.
The finale of Saturday night’s ArtPad was a poolside modern dance show. Two women emerged from beneath their shrouds while a third painted their bodies (and everything else in sight) with black paint in what looked like Japanese calligraphy. I’m sure it contained some deep message about “birth and rebirth” and “writing our stories through action,” but honestly, I just sat back, sipped a drink, and took in the whole poignant, pretentious, playful scene.