The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Luxury hotel houses hidden Arts District gem

A view of the Ross Gallery inside the Fairmont Hotel.
Kian Hervey/The Daily Campus
A view of the Ross Gallery inside the Fairmont Hotel.

A view of the Ross Gallery inside the Fairmont Hotel. (Kian Hervey/The Daily Campus)

The Buyer


A man wearing a light blue button-up shirt neatly tucked in his dark washed jeans poked his head in the gallery. His brown leather boots clicked on the black floor covered in paint splatters and glitter.

“My wife saw the painting outside and really liked it,” he said pointing to a canvas on the wall. “Is it for sale?”

Artist-in-Residence Mikki Mallow quickly assisted him. In a matter of minutes, the impulsive wish of a wife was settled and Mallow had another sale under her belt.

“With art, you never know. It’ll be crickets in here one minute, then lightning all of a sudden,” Mallow said.

The Fairmont Hotel in downtown Dallas is known for a number of things. Its luxurious and ornate lobby lined with marble columns, granite surface tops and gold detailing welcome a host of guests ranging from local celebrities to politicians.

Familiar guests are used to the fine tastings of in-house eatery Pyramid Restaurant & Bar and distinguished customer service, but many don’t not know about the unique art experience the hotel offers just downstairs.

The Gallery

“We’re really in a sort of transition right now,” Mallow said. “We’re trying to get the word out there that we’re here.”

Opened in 2009, The Gallery at the Fairmont is an intimate blank white space regularly transformed by local artists visions. Artists from the Dallas metroplex fixate their paintings, photos and creative merchandise on portable walls and moveable pedestals or racks to showcase their latest work.

A bold, black stem and thorn logo covered a side window when the gallery recently hosted artist and entrepreneur Jeremy Biggers.

“In a word, I’m an artist. I create art. That sounds cliche, but it’s exactly what I am,” Biggers said in an interview with FL-One, an online platform dedicated to progressive culture. “I take pride in the creation process and growth, and not just in painting, or within my brand, or photography, I want to cherish the creative process and grow in all facets of life.”

For more than a month, Biggers’ “Stem & Thorn” art and clothing line filled the gallery with Americana-inspired celebrity paintings and hip-hop styled snapbacks. After studying graphic design at the University of Texas, Biggers never thought he would be showcasing his work in an art gallery.

“When I talked to the guy, [the gallery owner], he didn’t think I could do it. Opening night, I had 700 people come through here. The most the gallery had ever seen was like 300,” Biggers said. “All you have to do is tell me no. “

On opening nights, the gallery collaborates with the hotel to create an evening of culture. Hotel bartenders and caterers are brought into the reception area between the gallery and hotel Starbucks. Visitors flow between the breezeway and gallery sipping on drinks and absorbing artists’ work.

SMU alum DeAndrei Hall saw Biggers’ exhibit from start to finish, attending both opening night and closing day events. Hall worked with Biggers at Dallas non-profit tutoring agency Group Excellence while an undergraduate at SMU and has been a supporter of Stem & Thorn ever since.

“I mean, I came because I know him… like it’s cool to see what’s up with him,” Hall said. “He literally free hands everything, just draws it out.”

Biggers Stem & Thorn exhibit closed on Oct. 2, but a portrait of him hangs in Mallow’s “I’m Seeing Someone” series now on display. Mallow is part of an even bigger gallery project at the Fairmont Hotel, the Artist-in-Residence program.

The Artist

The bright paints and colors of Mallow’s latest work, “For Your Amusement,” spread across the artist studio on Level “O.” Fluorescent lights bounce off the hand-painted glassware shelved on a sidewall. The paint-splattered, modern graffiti and jewel toned wine glasses are a souvenir favorite among guests. Huge canvases drenched in neon and bold lettering lay on an easel off to the side.

“I just love how she keeps it so colorful in here,” Katie Norwood, public relations and marketing manager at the Fairmont Dallas, said. “Every artist makes the room so different. Her layout is just really great.”

A Michigan native, Mallow moved to Dallas to attend the Art institute and study interior design in 1997. After working in design for a few years, she decided to launch her career as a solo artist.

Through word of mouth, she heard about and applied for the Artist-in-Residence program, which invites local artists to live and work in the Fairmont Hotel for three months. At the end of her stay, a capstone piece will be permanently displayed in the hotel.

“Being so close to the Arts District, we wanted to do something that embraced the arts,” Norwood said.

A number of hotels across the nation have begun to embrace the arts. While similar artist-in-residence programs exist in New York, Wisconsin, Illinois and Maine, no other venue has an extreme focus on local talent like the Fairmont Dallas.

“No other hotel has something like this-it’s the first of its kind,” Norwood said.

Past gallery artists have included Zach Saucedo, Hatziel Flores, and Courtney Miles, all local artists specializing in contemporary work. Saucedo’s abstract trees, Flores’ graffiti, and Miles’ photography represent the wide range of art on display.   

“You’re not going to see work like this in a museum. You’re not going to see local artists in a museum,” Mallow said. “This really is a special place.”

The Gallery at the Fairmont ris open Sunday and Monday by appointment only. It’s open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.- 6 p.m. Visitors can also visit Mallow downstairs in her studio Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Fairmont Hotel is located at 171 N Akard Street. Her show, “For Your Amusement,” opens Nov. 3.

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