Since officially kicking off its hotel art program with artist and curator Kimia Kline at the helm, Wythe Hotel has cultivated an impressive permanent collection featuring artists such as Katherine Bradford, Chris Martin, EJ Hauser, Steve DiBenedetto, and Yevgeniya Baras. Along with Rachael Petach, Kimia heads the hotel Residency Program, offering independent artists further opportunities to develop new pieces and share their work with broader audiences.
The hotel’s permanent collection consists of unique works in each guest room, a tribute to the Brooklyn local creative community and the diversity of talent to be found in the storied neighborhood. The collection primarily focuses on sketchbooks and in-process pieces, emphasizing the alive and fluid creative process. Wythe Hotel’s hope is to foster a connection between its guests and the wider creative community of Brooklyn, and Kimia continues to help foster that. We caught up with the local artist and curator to learn more about her unique work and process.
Greenpointers: Do you live in Brooklyn, and if so where and for how long?
Kimia Kline: I’ve lived in Fort Greene, Brooklyn for the past six years.
How did you first get connected to this Artist Residency Program, and why did the Wythe feel like a good fit as a venue?
After building the visual art collection in the hotel over the past four years, I was excited to expand our programming to include performance art and new media as well. After lots of conversations regarding how to better serve our creative community and activate the beautiful and unique spaces in the hotel, we came up with the parameters of the residency and put out an open call. We’ve been thrilled with the interest from both artists and audiences and realize what a need there is for this kind of exhibition opportunity in Brooklyn.
You’re a curator; what do you look for in artist submissions if you can share?
I look for clarity of process and intention mostly. It takes a while to hit your stride as an artist, and people typically bounce from idea to idea or medium to medium trying to figure out what they want to express and how. I look for emerging and mid-career artists who have come out the other side of this process and are excited to exhibit in an alternative space.
Is the art in the hotel created by and purchased from “graduates” of the residency program?
No, the two programs are distinct and so far haven’t overlapped.
You’ve worked with a lot of artists and on a lot of projects — any special ones that come to mind in reflecting on your work?
Walking into Kathy Bradford’s studio for the first time will always be a treasured memory. Same goes for digging through decades of sketches with Chris Martin. And planning open drawing nights (Draw-a-thons) with Tamara Gonzales has been a constant source of joy. There are honestly so many special memories, I’ve been really lucky to work with so many generous and talented artists.
You’re also an artist! What’s it like wearing the two hats as artist and curator?
I think of it as mostly just one hat since they organically and seamlessly feed each other. I’m a better artist because I’m a curator, and I’m a better curator because I’m an artist.
About Billy McEntee
Billy McEntee has been fortunate to work for arts non-profits in Boston, Denver, Berkeley, and now New York. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Vanity Fair, American Theatre, HowlRound, Observer, and others. He's usually getting wine at Dandelion or eating cookies at Archestratus.