The Antlers Hilton Hotel’s two long, window-lined foyer corridors weren’t intended to do much other than provide an indoor walkway between the hotel and the FirstBank building to the north and the Wells Fargo building to the south.
But, the hallway’s white, sun-drenched walls have become a gallery for local, working photographers, and the hotel’s support earned it ABE recognition from the Colorado Springs Business Journal for business support of the arts.
“Those walls were just hanging there, so why not fill them up with art all year long,” said Blue Fox Photography proprietor Wendy Pierce Nelson.
She said the idea to use the foyer’s corridors to display local artists’ work came easily to her, but she didn’t know how easily the hotel’s management would accept the idea.
“I had the bright idea to just go in there and ask Robert Zoll if we could start displaying the photography, and he liked the idea,” Pierce Nelson said.
So, she and local photography group Take 7 began to assemble displays.
The barren hallways were transformed with portraits of brides beaming on their wedding days, high school seniors readying for college and families smiling for the cameras.
“It’s a wonderful place for a showing,” Pierce Nelson said. “It’s well-lighted and airy and well-traveled, particularly around the holidays.”
The opportunity to display also helped create a community among local photographers.
“We can be less than cooperative with each other,” she said. “But, when everyone got to know each other, they began sharing equipment and looking out for each other.”
One photographer had his equipment stolen the night before a big shoot, and other photographers let him borrow the equipment he needed to get his job done, Pierce Nelson said.
“It has grown into a unique and convenient partnership,” she said.
But, it’s not only the photographers who benefit from the gallery, she said. It also adds something for hotel guests or people who might just happen to be downtown.
“It’s really a benefit for the public,” Pierce Nelson said. “If someone can have lunch and stroll down the corridor afterward and look at art, then that’s a benefit for them and for all of downtown.”