W Downtown Dresses Up Their Bar With Art By Their Newest Artists In Residence

The fifth floor Living Room at W Downtown boasts a showpiece ceiling, an attention grabbing sculptural canopy of Calatrava-style ripples. It even changes colors. But since the introduction of the hotel’s Artist in Residence program in December 2018, the ceiling is getting serious competition from the room’s charcoal walls, or to be precise, what’s hanging on them.

“Rainbow” (left) by Denise Cummings and “Shopaholic” by Pitch Black at W Downtown (Denise Cummings photo)

Right now, it’s a double show of work by New York artists Pitch Black (pitchblackart) and Denise Cummings (denisecummingsartist), unveiled on April 10. Selected by the hotel team, the art is upbeat and cheeky and pops with color, pattern and instantly recognizable images. In short, it’s the kind of work that pumps up the energy in a room, makes you smile and helps drinks go down fast and easy.

Though stylistically different, the two artists’ works play nice together, as you’d expect from artists who happen to be friends. Riffing on Pop art, Black’s big bold paintings repurpose familiar images, notably 20th-century cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop and Felix the Cat.

“Paint Can Mickey” by Pitch Black (Pitch Black photo)

A certified horticulturist and paper expert whose handmade paper products have sold at Barneys and Fred Siegel, Cummings marries those interests in fanciful abstract collages ripe with plant imagery.

“Frida” by Denise Cummings (Denise Cummings photo)

The W’s Artist in Residence program extends from the walls to your drinks glass with cocktails inspired by each artist. “Bloom” salutes Cummings, blending Stoli vodka, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, St. Germain, Chamborod and hibiscus flower garnish. “Pitch Black Shot” mixes Patron Cafe, Ciroc Vodka and Licor 43. Each costs $18 with a portion earmarked for the artist’s charity of choice.

The art is also for sale with prices ranging from around $800 to $8,000. You can stop by the W, toss back a few shots, whip out your credit card and take home a piece of art.

With the show scheduled to last through the year, that means that new art will appear on the walls when the first round sells. (There were red dots next to a couple of works on opening night.)

And why not? As Cummings put it, “Pop up shows like this one are energizing at hotels. It’s kind of boring when you go to a hotel and see the same painting in the same place every time.”

Note: Additional work by the artists is on view on the ground floor of the W Downtown Residences adjoining the hotel. 

W Downtown, 8 Albany Street; 646 826-8600

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