Fans of Alyssa Baguss’ ethereal drawings — which look like relief maps of a blue moon's surface — should check out her elegant Burnet Gallery show before it closes Dec. 31. And while there, take a maybe-last-look at the gallery itself.
The gallery’s future has been in limbo since its building, the Le Méridien Chambers hotel on Hennepin Av., was sold by art collector and gallery owner Ralph Burnet. In June the Dallas-based Ashford Hospitality Trust bought the Chambers and Burnet’s Foshay Tower hotel, the W Minneapolis.
“We’re just in a holding pattern right now,” said gallery director Jennifer Phelps. “When Ralph owned them, the gallery and hotel worked together and there were a lot of board meetings, dinners and events in the gallery that people loved. He approved all the shows, bought art for the hotel’s 60 rooms, and loaned pieces from his own collection for display in the lobby. Now it’s a different entity and we’re in limbo."
Throughout the gallery's 10 year tenure at 901 Hennepin Av., it has occupied a spacious white-walled room overlooking the busy thoroughfare and adjacent to the hotel's popular courtyard bar and restaurant. A longtime Walker Art Center board member and patron, Burnet is a big-time booster of the Twin Cities' art scene. Proud of Chambers' reputation as a "boutique art hotel," Burnet used the gallery to offer a contemporary art experience to hotel guests while simultaneously touting local culture.
At least half of the gallery's six annual exhibitions had to feature local talent, and often more of them did. Much of the art in the hotel's rooms and hallways was done by Minnesota artists or students at Minneapolis College of Art and Design or the University of Minnesota. The lobby pieces, however, are by national and internationally known artists collected by Burnet and his wife Peggy.
"We’ll probably know within the next couple weeks what will happen next,” Phelps said. Stay tuned.