In the early 1900s, the opulent Oxford Hotel wasn’t just for the wealthy; artists often paid their bar tabs at the posh spot by creating original works. Little wonder, then, that Denver’s Sage Hospitality, which operates the Oxford (and many other local and national hotels) today, continues to give local artists a footprint in its properties. For example, all 172 guest rooms of Sage’s Hilton Garden Inn (pictured), opening in Boulder this month, will feature screen-printed murals by Johnny DeFeo, who graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in May with a master’s in painting and drawing. His 16 prints speak to Boulder’s status as both a college town and a haven for nature lovers. (One of the zany drawings, “Late-Night Take-Out,” depicts raccoons scavenging for food.)
The project is part of the Beyond the Studio mentorship program—run by local art consulting firm Nine dot Arts—in which DeFeo partnered with abstract expressionist and fellow CU Boulder alum Lisa Solberg to hone his vision and learn about the business aspects of the art world, like pitching a large-scale project. With those trade secrets, perhaps he’ll break with the starving-artist convention and live as comfortably as the guests enjoying his work.