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As the first downtown hotel in the past 38 years moves closer to its soft opening on Dec. 18, the 59-room Hotel Windrow is working to establish itself as what managing partner Steve Townsend is calling the “community’s hotel.”

With that in mind, the hotel reached out to establish a connection with the Ellensburg and Kittitas Valley art community, hiring eight local and regional artists to showcase their work throughout Hotel Windrow and Basalt restaurant.

Working through a partnership with Gallery One Visual Arts Center, the artistic talent will be on display in all 59 rooms, corridors, meeting rooms and the public areas. In all, 198 pieces of artwork, including a two-story digital mural in the lobby paying homage to the valley’s history, created by Justin Colt Beckman, along with the metal sculpture on the north-facing exterior wall envisioned and created by blacksmith Maria Cristalli.

“Steve and his people understand that art is a big part of Ellensburg. So we were thrilled to partner with them to help facilitate the process,” said Monica Miller, the executive director of Gallery One Visual Arts Center. “Steve was adamant that he didn’t want the artwork to be something people could see in any other hotel.

“He wanted it to reflect the voice of our community, and I think we’ve done a good job in doing that.”

The Call to Artists went out encouraging artists to reflect the nature and place of the Kittitas Valley. Eight artists were selected to furnish between two and three pieces each. They include Robert A. Fisher, Austin J. Smith, Justin Gibbens, Dana Hunter, Charles McGehee, Gregg Schlanger, Justin Colt Beckman and Scott Mayberry.

“This follows our vision to be the community’s hotel and we wanted to have artwork that represented our community,” Townsend said. “I have a lot of respect for Gallery One and we came up with a plan in Kittitas and Chelan counties, exclusively.

“We put together a committee with representatives from the architecture firm and a number of our partners, but Gallery One managed the whole process. I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.”

The artwork in the hotel rooms involves three pieces, ranging from a larger piece 16 x 24 inches to smaller pieces of 12 x 12 and 11 x 16. Like a subdivision where not every house looks the same, Gallery One came up with seven sets of three pieces, so every floor will have its unique artwork, as well as every room. There will be some duplication, Miller said, but it’s not like a guest can walk into the room across the hall and see the same paintings that are in their room.

“We did this in three stages. Exhibit A was the exterior and we were happy to get Maria (Cristalli) to do the outside exhibit on the north wall,” Miller said. “B was the artwork designed for the rooms and C was the digital mural in the lobby which will feature revolving scenes depending on the time of year.

“I was not involved in the artist or art selection. My role was more of a facilitator to help make it happen.”

For complete biographies of each artist, visit

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at


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