Planning an art show in a hotel space

 In Events

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of pop-up art shows. I really like the ability to show my work in a less formal setting, so the work is very approachable and affordable. I started experimenting with this in April by doing a one day show in an office.  Next I’m trying to do one in a hotel in conjunction with a book launch.


Hotels don’t like you to hang anything on their walls. The event spaces are usually designed for serving food or having meetings, not showing art. In this particular case, I am also adapting to another event, so the space needs to optimize for interaction around the featured book.

I can use the standard six foot tables covered in tablecloths. It’s possible to rent easels, but the rental fees add up really fast. Even more challenging is the space they take up. They can get knocked over when there are a lot of people milling around.

The show is happening at the same time as the World Domination Summit which I am attending. I won’t be able to be at the showing the whole time, so I need everything to be self explanatory and able to be staffed by other people.

artwork going to studio sale

Selecting the best art for the space

Deciding to do a series of smaller showings allows me to pick a selection of work rather than trying to show everything I have. The first thing I decided not to bring was anything in frames. They are heavy, take up more space, and tend to get scratched and dented. At the same time, I know the work looks better with some attention to presentation. I decided to put them in mats with protective plastic bags over them.

Next, I decided to bring things where each size was the same type of thing. The pieces that are in 12′ x 18″ double mats are all one of a kind originals. The prints in the 11″ x 14″ mats are  printed on an interesting photo paper with a pearlescent surface that gives the colors a nice pop. The prints in the 8″” x 10″ mats are standard photographic prints, as are the small ones on cards.

Getting the work displayed

I’ve been gathering things I could possibly use, several kinds of small easels and a simple magazine rack.


What do you think? Do these look OK to you? Some of them hold several, so people will be able to look at some options. My biggest concern is the magazine rack. I want people to be able to look through a number of original pieces. It seem a little low to me.


It might work better if it was lifted up a bit, but whatever I use to do it has to be really sturdy. I know people do not want to take the chance of knocking things over. I want people to be really comfortable around my art, and feel free to handle it.

Got any suggestions? Love to hear them.

 Want to come to the show?

Drop by if you are in the area and see how I solve this challenge. July 7, 2013 Heathman Hotel 2nd floor. 1001 SW Broadway Portland 12PM – 8PM.


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Showing 5 comments
  • Jennifer

    Regarding the magazine rack, is there a way to raise it a bit by creating some sort if base for it to rest on? My first thought was a covered phone book. I think raising it 1-2 inches would be helpful.

    That said, I also think that it would be okay even if it weren’t raised.

    I can’t wait to see your artwork (and you!) in person!

    • Christine Martell

      Ha! I thought, great idea. Then I realized I have thrown every phone book that has been delivered in the recycle. But the concept is sound, because if I find just the right size book, the magazine rack feet will tuck over the edges and be stable.

      Just a few more days, it will be great to see you.

  • rachel

    I might go the other way ’round and put the magazine rack at the front of the table for easiest access and then raise the smaller collection up. I have used acrylic risers like these: flipped upside down to hold flat prints/cards for people to flip through.

    they come in handy all sorts of ways. Also, ikea usually has good birch boxes/bins that can double as transport for small items to the show and then be used as risers and still look good and fade into the set-up.


    • Christine Martell

      More great ideas, thanks Rachel. I keep forgetting about Ikea for these types of things, I’ll head over there between errands.

  • Michele Martin

    I have no suggestions, Christine–learning from you on this. 🙂 But I have to say that the art is looking amazing–makes me just want to dive in and see all that you have!

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