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  • Nicole Gordon with Photos Supplied From Artist and

Curating The Roger Smith Hotel with Jason Naylor

What a wonderful opportunity I was given by the incredible creative and kind Head of Arts and Cultural Programming of The Roger Smith Hotel, Danika Druttman. I had met with Danika to discuss the possibility of being the Guest Curator for a three month period beginning in late April. I was working on a business plan for an artist to do an entire take over of their in house restaurant, Lily's.

That meant truly taking over every panel of the restaurant and replacing it with artwork. My task was to suggest a few artists to do the takeover and I was hooked on artist Jason Naylor. I truly relate to both his colorful artwork and positive messages. Next, I presented Jason's work, IG feed and bio to Danika and she too thought he would be a great fit for the project.

The theme was next. I actually had a dream about the idea of "100 Reasons to Love New York" and both Jason and Danika liked the idea. We then narrowed it down to "Reasons to Love Midtown East." Jason, Danika and I met in the restaurant and carefully decided which panels would be covered in text, and which would be painted in an abstract format.

We all wanted everything to flow and connect for the patrons when being seated within the restaurant. Jason agreed to tweak his normally neon color palette to better suit the colors within the hotel. Just a small compromise and nothing that would take away from his artistic nature. You know when you see peace, and now all I want to do is work with him on other projects! He is professional, works so very fast and has a truly clean hand. Jason has worked on many corporate projects and knows how to work well with all different types of clients.

The Roger Smith Hotel's staff were incredibly supportive and we were then given a mural (I asked for it, actually, as I was encouraged to be a stronger spirit with Danika's guidance) around the corner and two brownstone facades (which will be painted within the next few months).

Artist's Statement:

Color, lights, sounds. Commotion, energy, excitement. Blurs, splashes, jolts. NYC captures so much of us without us even knowing, and we seldom consider the amount of stimuli we experience on a daily basis. Though we are constantly submerged in it, we forget what it actually feels like. Yes, we see all the colors and hear all the sounds, but how do they make us feel? What does it feel like to walk into Grand Central Terminal for the first time? What does it feel like to exit the subway onto a bustling Park Avenue? Is it love? Is it nostalgia? Let us consider the emotions we experience in the glorious city we adore most, and through words and color we will illustrate the on-going romance we have with this sentimental city...

I loved being at the hotel and watching Lily's come to life with Jason's artwork. We spent two full days on site and then were done. My "curated by" tag was a true sense of accomplishment once the restaurant was done. The outside mural and two brownstone facades were the icing on the cake.

Although Jason is represented by a wonderful agency, I am truly grateful that we had the chance to do this project together. We have since curated a show at a Cafe in Chelsea and are working on a secret merchandise project which you will all hear about once I am allowed to spill the deets.

I've learned so much by doing hands on work with Jason. I have also learned a lot about myself and see that I must ask for things that I truly want to see happen in my life. Without asking, you will never know the answer and it can only be a disservice to you by living with the indelible question mark of what if I had asked...?. Ask and ye shall receive. It's the truth. There's no harm in asking for what you want. Give it a try and look at the infinite possibilities in front of you. See? Now I sound like Jason, too.

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