Thursday, November 1, 2012

Green Mountain Falls, the next Marfa?

Posted By on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 at 5:07 PM

On Tuesday, the Indy got a chance to peek inside the Outlook Lodge in Green Mountain Falls. This revamped boutique hotel, originally built in 1889, is backed by none other than Christian Keesee, chairman of Kirkpatrick Bank and Kirkpatrick Oil Co., and the man behind so much of the cultural blossoming happening up there.

The Lodge at night.
  • The Lodge at night.

The hotel, says Kirkpatrick spokesperson Ross Powell, is just one project among many that Keesee has planned for GMF. His hope, ultimately, is to make the town into a thriving arts and culture spot, similar to the next Marfa, Texas.

Marfa, for those who haven't heard of it, is a tiny town deep in West Texas that's become one of the top arts destinations in the country. Thanks to artist Donald Judd, who first settled there in the ’70s, Marfa has evolved from sleepy to sensational. It now hosts numerous galleries and epic festivals, and provides an economic boost we here in the Springs can only dream of.

GMF is moving in that direction, thanks to the Green Box Arts Festival, now in entering its fifth year, and the similarly revamped Falls Motel, which will be converted into art studios. Next to that, Keesee has built an outdoor pavilion, which Powell says residents can use for farmers markets, festivals or whatever they wish.

And next year, Green Box will reach a new level of name recognition when it brings in "Cloud City," an enormous installation from Keesee's private collection that's been on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

But let's get back to the Outlook Lodge for now, because it in itself is quite unique. For one, it doesn't have many rooms. Keesee plans to add on to it in the near future, which will expand its capacity to 30 people. Secondly, there's no front desk. The Lodge is all about a "hands-off approach," leaving residents to pick up their keys in a quaint lockbox on the porch. Rooms are cleaned every other day unless requested, and there's a full-time staff of only three employees.

Outlook_IMG_2780.jpg

Outlook_IMG_2516HDR.jpg

And of course, the art is exquisite, coming from Keesee's own collection. Many of the photographs hung throughout are by Brett Weston, a preeminent 20th-century photographer whose works were shown at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center last year. (They hailed from the Brett Weston Archive, which Keesee owns.)

In time, the Lodge will also house an Art-o-mat machine, a revamped vintage cigarette machine that dispenses tiny works of art on wooden blocks. According to Art-o-mat, there are about 100 active machines today, to which 400 or so artists contribute.

An Art-o-mat card and sample artwork from the media preview, this one by artist David A. Franke
  • An Art-o-mat card and sample artwork from the media preview, this one by artist David A. Franke

While I'm certainly no expert on hotels, I will say that the Lodge truly captures the mountain living of GMF, just without the discomfort. (I've spent a good many nights in my grandmother's cabin up there, shivering in bed in the cold of June.) There's a look and a smell to the GMF I know, and the Lodge has all that, and a Brett Weston.

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