Masterfully blended within the custom moldings of the headboards in each guestroom is a one-of-a-kind art piece by French artist, Yves Clement. A "Sleeping with Art" concept integrates the large black-on-canvas paintings, which he calls "drippings." Clement employed an "action painting" process by virtue of his controlled gestures and dribbling paint directly onto a floor canvas with a paint stick rather than a brush. The outcome is evocative, loosely figurative, abstract artwork with a value of $10,000 - $15,000 each.
Gene Locklear is a full-blooded member of the Lumbee Indian Nation and a renowned artist specializing in oils and acrylics. Known for realism in his depiction of both Native Americans and sportsmen, Locklear was commissioned by Sycuan to create representations of Kumeyaay life from the 1700's-1900's in a modern abstract style. His original paintings are some of the few known historical depictions of California's Native Americans, albeit in a whimsical and interpretive style.
Chris Maresca's sizeable oil on canvas work "The Sycuan Desert Rose," welcomes guests arriving at the hotel's Fourth Avenue entrance. "Sycuan" literally means "primrose" which translates to "life" in the language of the Kumeyaay. Maresca's nuanced but arresting painting starts with a flower detail from one of the hotel's original turn-of-the century handrails. An image of a primrose overlaps the original flower, with the two images bleeding into one another and becoming one, representing the evolution of the hotel's historic roots to its present day owners.
This multi-talented Native American artist is renowned for combining a traditional yet contemporary sensibility into his artwork. Of two bronze sculptures that Montour created for THE US GRANT, the lobby centerpiece is a most stunning 4-foot tall white bronze piece depicting a woman emerging from a pool of blue water while holding three primrose flowers. The organic quality of the work illustrates the woman as part of the vine with stems entwining her legs, and symbols of Native American life "hidden" throughout the piece.
Najera's pieces are expressive paintings inspired by the history of the hotel. Her abstract, hand-made art, including "boxes" and the stretcher boards on which they are mounted, entail layering colors on wood and wax and then carving out a unique line drawing through the many layers.
JOHNNY "BEAR" CONTRERAS
A member of the San Pasqual Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, Contreras is a self-taught sculptor and creator who mixes the traditions of his culture with the contemporary design techniques of modern art. The bronze sculpture for the 7th floor lobby is a representational piece showing three women undulating, with their arms interlocked and hair flowing as they move in different directions. Meanwhile, Contreras' three additional commissioned sculptures depict the traditional dances of the Kumeyaay.
In honor of its historical significance, rich detail and architecture, the Crystal Ballroom ceiling design has been restored to its original, elegant splendor. Hall enhanced the ceiling with a fresh palate to illuminate the room with a soft, warm glow, and employed painting techniques to create the impression of raising the depth of the ceiling, giving it a floating feeling.
ROBERT DALE TSOSIE
Sycuan commissioned a contemporary bronze sculpture called "The Four Directions" to depict the four birds that oversee the lands of the Kumeyaay. Tsosie incorporated a primrose atop the four figures - a raven, a red tail hawk, a golden eagle and an owl, and in the center lies a rattle, a musical instrument signifying the holy songs of the Kumeyaay that have been passed down, intact from one generation to another.
New Mexico-based artist Shane Hendren was selected to create the ironwork for the hotel. The design of his commissioned work - including the crowned ironwork above the entryway, the railings along the walkway in front of the hotel, and the iron gateway on the entrance to the parking structure - correspond to the turn-of-the-century era of the hotel but with a modern flair. The yellow primrose is a recurring theme in this work as well.
THE HISTORIC COLLECTION
The centerpiece of the historic art collection is a circa 1910 oil on canvas portrait of the hotel's namesake, Ulysses S. Grant, by Urban Lawrence Gray. Commissioned for the opening of the hotel and originally installed at the top of the Grand Staircase, the portrait was carefully restored for the hotel's 2006 reopening and hangs in the foyer at the heart of the hotel's lower level.
Among other notable works in the historical cache are pieces from the Haache Collection; including photographs, postcards and paper collectables from various eras of the hotel's storied past.