Artists breathe life into condemned Hotel Marshall


A row of paintings on display in one of the many rooms of the Art Hotel in Downtown Sacramento on Feb.12, 2016. The art was created by local Sacramento and surrounding area artists and was on display until Feb.13, 2016 before the building was torn down for the new stadium construction. (Photo by Matthew Nobert)

Matthew Peirson and Claire Bathory

By Trevor Haynes

Throughout January, artists from all over the world slipped into an abandoned hotel to tear up its floors, write all over its walls, splash paint over every surface they could find, and fill the rooms with strange things.

From Feb. 5 to 13, the hotel opened tours to the public, allotting 25 minutes to explore the rooms.

Every nook and cranny was put to use. A harrowing poem was written on one set of stairs, the back of a closet had been torn open for a covertly placed sculpture and a chair meticulously placed in an open window were only a few things that guests might miss on their first trip through.

An attending artist, William Ishmael, was more than eager to point out details to guests.

“There’s so much treasure just tucked around in the nooks and crannies,” said Ishmael. “There’s stuff like this all over the building. There’s just so much to see.”

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The exterior of the Art hotel with a massive line of people waiting to see the unique art inside. (Photo by Matthew Nobert)
The exterior of the Art hotel with a massive line of people waiting to see the unique art inside. (Photo by Matthew Nobert)

Stephanie Duncan, who works downtown, went to what she described as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“I just thought it was an interesting concept that they were able to integrate their art with the building,” Duncan said. “To have a five-story building, as an art place, doesn’t happen very often if at all.”

Duncan said the experience was very “unique” and that she was fortunate to have the time to check it out.

“Sacramento doesn’t often have opportunities like this,” Duncan said.

According to Sacramento area curator Robert Jean Ray, who helped to organize the exhibit, guests expressed a similar sort of admiration for the Art Hotel.

“(There’s been) nothing but really positive response,” Ray said. “I think they kind of wish they had more time.”

Ray added that he “(had not seen) one person who hadn’t been totally amazed and impressed.”


Ray believed that a part of the exhibit’s attraction was owed to its unusual presentation.

“(The art) has been taken out of its traditional setting and people appreciate it more,” Ray said.

The Jade Apartments have been slated for demolition in conjunction with the construction of the Golden 1 Center, the new downtown arena and future home of the Sacramento Kings.

The Hotel Marshall next door will be revamped into a 10-story Hyatt Place along with the arena construction.

The hotel will include 163 rooms and retail space on the ground floor.

Hotel Marshall, originally named Hotel Clayton when built in 1911, formerly included a jazz club.