A Philadelphia resident is living in grand luxury — well, at least his art is — at the famed Essex House (www.jumeriah.com) in New York City. With a prestigious Central Park address, the Art Deco hotel is considered a home away from home from celebrities, heads of state and the paintings of Mark Innerst. The Pennsylvania native is known for his paintings of “urban canyons” and, as part of the Essex’s $90-million renovation, Innerst agreed to paint his only large-scale commission on permanent view, “Columbus Circle Seen from the Essex House.” He also has four smaller paintings in the presidential suite, which has commanding views of the park. Outside his hotel residence, Innerst debuted this month in a new exhibition, through Dec. 18 at the DC Moore Gallery, 724 Fifth Ave., New York City.
The pet-friendly, gay-friendly Essex is a patron of the arts and employs an art curator on staff. Through the end of the year, the hotel is displaying a photo exhibition by Alison Wright, who travels the globe to document the traditions of endangered cultures.
A royal sneak peak
Annie Leibovitz, photography genius, reigns queen in the Royal Palm Suite at the Royal Palms gay guesthouse in Ft. Lauderdale. Look closely and you will find a rare autographed poster of her most famous works. Royal Palms founder Richard Gray gave me a hardhat tour of his latest innovation, the largest full-service luxury gay resort in North America, just steps from the Atlantic Ocean. Opening in February 2011, the new gay-men’s resort will offer free Wi-Fi and iPads, a gym, spa, full bar, indoor/outdoor café and two pools. No word from Gray yet on what works of art will adorn the walls or be found sunning themselves by the pool! (wwww.royalpalms.com)
Culture on the high seas
You probably wouldn’t wear sandals and a bathing suit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but aboard Holland America’s newest ship, the 86,000-ton Nieuw Amsterdam, go ahead. Holland America Line has installed an array of works valued at over $3 million, ranging from antiques by traditional Dutch masters to creations by renowned contemporary artists. The boutique collection includes works by celebrated artists Andy Warhol, Richard Estes and Roy Lichtenstein. A complimentary self-guided iPod art tour is available. RSVP is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a Caribbean cruise Feb. 13-20, 2011. (www.rsvpvacations.com)
Any time in your own backyard
We live in a region with an incredibly rich collection of great art in great spaces. During the holiday vacation days, visit the Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts on North Broad Street, the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford or the Rodin Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Jeff Guaracino is a vice president for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and author of “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.” He has learned how to find the best deals and travel resources out there for our community. If you’re traveling locally, check out www.visitphilly.com