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North Texas' Biggest Commercial Gallery: The New Omni Hotel

Your gallery -- that is, your guest room -- awaits The City of Dallas’ new convention center hotel opens today. The City hopes the Omni Hotel will help the local economy. Good or bad, it’s already boosted North Texas artists’ bottom line. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports the hotel displays more than 6,700 examples of their original artwork.

Expanded online story: The Omni Hotel may now be the biggest commercial gallery in North Texas -- because most of those artworks are for sale. The general manager Nils Stolzlechner says it’s  company policy to make each hotel unique. Each displays for sale local items: foods and fashions ... and photographs and watercolors. Stolzlechner: “So if you stay at an Omni in Dallas, you can bring great things home, great presents that you won’t find anywhere else – unless you go directly to those sources.” More than one million dollars’ worth of art is on display in the lobbies – including sizable  pieces by  celebrated sculptor James Surls. There’s another 1.2 million dollars’ worth of smaller paintings, photos and pen-and-ink drawings [sound of door closing] in the hotel’s 1,001 guest rooms.

“In every guest room, you have four to six original pieces of art.” Caryn Kboudi is vice president of corporate communications for Omni. “Every room is different, no two pieces are quite alike. And they are all in celebration of the districts and the neighborhoods of Dallas.” [left, Dallas icons byDouglas Winters] Photographer Sean Fitzgerald is one of the 150 local artists whose works are being shown. He says guests can go to a lobby computer to look up the artist and the price, which can range from around 200 dollars to a thousand. But the hotel also let's them check out the artist's other works. Fitzgerald: "That's like an agent there. The Omni's kind of a permanent agent. And that's unique and extremely appreciated. In a way, it's almost like this big, communal Dallas art gallery, and it's  exciting to be a part of that."  

Jerome Weeks is the Art&Seek producer-reporter for KERA. A professional critic for more than two decades, he was the book columnist for The Dallas Morning News for ten years and the paper’s theater critic for ten years before that. His writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, American Theatre and Men’s Vogue magazines.