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December 15, 2018

Chicago hotel takes artistic approach to fighting breast cancer with designer doors

September 27, 2018

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How does one show support for breast cancer awareness month? If you’re the Viceroy Chicago hotel, you just have to open the door.

The Gold Coast property is doing its part for the cause with an initiative called Designer Doors for Charity. The monthlong event, which begins Oct. 1, features doors painted by eight local artists — doors that reflect the impacts of cancer on survivors and loved ones.




The designs adorn guest room doors of the hotel’s fifth floor; guests who stay on the floor during the month of October will have a portion of their room rate donated to the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation. (Rates start at $305 for a king and $350 for a one-bedroom suite.) Guests on the fifth floor will have a chance to read the story of the artist and the inspiration for the door’s concept.

“Many people have been touched by breast cancer in some way, and that is why this cause is of such importance to our team,” said Melissa Lorenz, director of sales and marketing for Viceroy Chicago. “Working with these artists on this unique project and seeing their visions come to life to benefit the Lynn Sage foundation has been so rewarding, and we hope that our guests are as moved by the designs and stories behind them as we are.”

Viceroy collaborated with local artists — some abstract oil painters, some large multimedia muralists and some who do profiles of people — to provide a diverse range of works. The artists include Justus Roe, Tracee Badway, Janet Hamilton, Shar Coulson, Kate Tully, Doug Frohman, Alma Dominguez and Veronica Martinez.

Tully, of Prospect Heights, used the image of a butterfly’s metamorphosis to capture the strength and energy that goes into overcoming breast cancer.

“It’s kind of surreal in a way,” Tully said about her creation, which traces a butterfly’s developmental phases. “It goes through this cocoon stage,” she said. “I didn’t want it to be too dark, but I felt like it’s kind of a place where you go when you’re diagnosed.”

Three of Tully’s friends have had firsthand experience with breast cancer.

“I talked to them about it, and I told them my idea,” she added, “and they kind of thought that’s how you feel: You’re alone in this, and in a way, you try to get by.”

Roses on a yellow background are featured on the door by Badway. The Lincoln Park artist dedicated her door to her aunt, her mother’s identical twin who is currently in remission.

“I thought of my aunt when I made this,” Badway said. “I’m creating some feminine roses that are also kind of dripping paint. I wanted to describe her delicacy and beauty through the roses, but also her thorns. I feel the thorns are how she got through it — those thorns are just so strong and so rough. She just crushed it, so it’s symbolic of that, but in the end, I just wanted to make something pretty.”

Dominguez created a composite of a female boxer holding a stance under the words “Fight Like a Girl.” The Cicero resident has friends with different kinds of cancer. She attests that it’s hard to see when they go through chemotherapy.

Both of Frohman’s parents had cancer. The West Town resident incorporated words into his composition that involves atmospheric geometries — layers of space and time that convey his experience with the disease.

“I feel like it’s an original piece about overcoming cancer,” he said. “When you’re in the fight, I feel like you should have support, you should have hope.”

Hamilton, an abstract painter, wanted to make a strong, colorful statement to reflect female power. Her door is a mix of reds, pinks and yellows.




“When I think of breast cancer and powerful women, I just want it to be a powerful pink — a powerful statement,” said the Orland Park resident. “Cancer can be overwhelming, so I just want that person to think happy thoughts at a time when it’s really difficult.”

Coulson also used shades of red, yellow and pink in the swirls that decorate her door. Her 83-year-old mom was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. She’s on the other side of it now, Coulson said.

Martinez did a portrait of her aunt, a breast cancer survivor who’s volunteered at a number of local breast cancer organizations.

Roe’s abstract door — an explosion of color — is the first one that guests come across when getting off the elevators on the fifth floor. He said cancer has claimed the lives of several family members, including a 33-year-old aunt he never had the chance to know, as well as friends, mentors and colleagues.

“My work is primarily abstract and hopefully open-ended enough for people to apply their own narrative experience,” he said. “However, I do hope the piece will create a brief moment for people seeing it that captures the waves of emotional intensity created in confronting cancer. Also that those complex feelings are often shifting over time.”

The Viceroy’s door endeavor culminates Oct. 29, when the hotel will hold an auction of works by the artists, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to the Lynn Sage foundation and the other half going to the artists, Lorenz said.

This marks the first art installation for a cause at Viceroy Chicago, the hotel brand’s first Midwest location. Lorenz said she expects the property will take on similar projects in the future, thanks to the Los Angeles-based hotelier’s ongoing art initiative Canvas for Discovery, which invites artists to Viceroy Hotels and Resorts to create original, site-specific work in a variety of mediums.

“It will happen again — and it could happen in the form of Designer Doors, or it could happen in other forms too,” she said.

Twitter @DarcelTribune




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