Drawing the Line
Trendy hotel marches into Austin with commitment to local culture
Since opening earlier this week, The Line Austin has received its fair share of attention for the Kristen Kish-led restaurant, Arlo Grey. (Top Chef winners have a tendency to garner the spotlight.) And while it did head outside the Austin city limits to find a chef, the hotel stuck closer to home to cultivate its unique arts program.
Partnering with local arts nonprofit Big Medium, The Line Austin sought to work specifically with Austin- and Central Texas-based artists and makers to create everything from the in-room art to the textiles to the Arlo Grey wood bar.
This commitment to tapping into a new city is a signature facet of The Line's method; Sydell Group, the hotel's owner, took a similar approach for the group's other hotels in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
"Each of the three Line hotels is built on the idea of creative collaboration and a sort of conversation with their respective neighborhoods," explains Isadora McKeon, VP of creative and culture for Sydell Group. "In Austin, the city has been undergoing huge growth and change over the past decade, and the rise in real estate prices and rents are creating challenges for artists trying to live and work in town. The question was — what can we do to support this amazing creative community, and how do we share their talent with our travelers?"
In an effort to share that talent, the group commissioned more than 500 works from local artists such as Xochi Solis, Alyson Fox, Manik Raj Nakra, Alexandra Valenti, Elizabeth Chiles, Jules Buck Jones, and Jeffrey Dell to outfit the 428-room hotel. The Line also tapped Bastrop-based designer and craftsman Michael Wilson to build the wooden restaurant interiors and expansive bar.
Accompanying this work is a book in every guestroom with information about the selected artists, giving visitors an insider's look at Austin's local art scene. The hotel also encourages staff to serve as impromptu "docents," educating on the individual artists and their work.
"The result is a ... diverse representation of the regional arts scene," says McKeon. "But we didn’t want it to stop there. We want this to be a living, breathing program that evolves and grows over time."
And so, later this year, The Line will open a dedicated space for artists to work, as well as a residency program. "The room is being built out as a working studio for a variety of media," McKeon says, adding that the program will be open to artists and writers with a connection to Texas and include a stipend.
With, as McKeon notes, Austin's growth continually outpacing affordability, and many big-name brands clamoring for a piece of Austin culture, the hotel doesn't just showcase a few local artists, it's also walking the line to support them.