Fifteen years ago Julie Keyes, an artist, art dealer, art consultant, and real estate agent at Saunders and Associates in Bridgehampton, met Adam Tihany, an internationally renowned interior designer. The introduction, made by Ms. Keyes’s beau, Nathan Slate Joseph, an artist who works out of a barn in Bridgehampton and lives with Ms. Keyes in Sag Harbor and New York, changed her life.
“Adam is the most talented interior designer out there. He’s as commanding a presence as any Hollywood star I have ever met and he’s as good at his job as it gets,” said Ms. Keyes, whose company, Keyes Art Projects, has offices in Sag Harbor and Williamsburg. “And he trusted me to make choices in a way that I cannot believe.”
He obviously still trusts her as she continues to work with him to curate art on numerous high-profile global hotel projects around the world.
In December, Ms. Keyes, who gave up her gallery on West 21st Street in New York two years ago, completed work at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla. She has several ongoing projects with Mr. Tihany from California to Dubai. For these latter-day palaces, Ms. Keyes sources many of the paintings, prints, and sculptural pieces to adorn lobbies, spas, bars, and rooms from South Fork artists. “I’ve lived in a lot of places and the East End has a huge number of really good artists,” she said. For one thing, “The legacy of what has occurred here historically looms over everybody’s easel.” For another, “It’s really expensive to live here. You can’t be a bad artist and live in Sag Harbor unless somebody else is paying your bills.”
At the Breakers, Ms. Keyes provided art for the legendary hotel’s bar and its restaurant, Flagler Steakhouse, whose freshly renovated interior is described on the hotel’s website as “preppy-luxe red, white, and blue.”
While Mr. Tihany renovates the Beverly Hills Hotel, which Ms. Keyes called “the signature hotel of the country,” she is finding the artwork for its rooms, suites, and halls. She used landscapes by Walter Us, a Sag Harbor artist, and abstract paintings by Elizabeth Barber Leventhal of Marietta, Ga., and Sag Harbor. Originals were placed in high-end suites while Joan Kraisky, an East Hampton artist and printer, made a numbered print run of the pieces for use elsewhere. To give the feel of grand Hollywood estates, Ms. Keyes hired a photographer to shoot some of the grand local gardens. Ms. Kraisky manipulated the images to give them a vintage ’50s feel.
For the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas’s presidential suites, she used prints by Donald Sultan, a Sag Harbor artist, and Dan Christensen, who lived and worked in East Hampton before his death in 2007. For a dramatic backdrop to the hotel’s spa, whose atmosphere reflects “the exotic luxury of 1930s Shanghai,” according to its website, Josh Lehrer, a photographer with a house in Sagaponack, shot images of an Asian model in poses reminiscent of that period and place. The pictures were printed on watercolor paper in various sizes and hung throughout the spa, some taking up an entire wall. For around the pool, Ms. Keyes herself rendered surreal images of trees, which were then superimposed on cabana curtains.
In the “understated elegance” of the Armani Hotel in Dubai, located in the Burj Khalifa, which bills itself as the world’s tallest building, she installed a large sculptural piece composed of brass rods by Carol Bove, an artist represented by New York’s Maccarone gallery. “The rods were attached to the ceiling in a configuration of celestial bodies, a horoscope to mark the birthday of the hotel,” said Ms. Keyes. Ms. Bove represented the United States in last year’s Venice Biennale.
Her work with Mr. Tihany led her to collaborate with another world-renowned designer, David Rockwell. For this, her biggest project to date, she is in the process of sourcing all the art for the Andaz Maui at Wailea, a Hyatt hotel in Hawaii. In her approach she has been “very sensitive to the Hawaiian culture,” with each piece “embodying the spiritual, cultural, and historic significance” of the Pacific state. Among the local artists she featured there was Sag Harbor’s Brian O’Leary, whose bold abstract prints adorn the suites. An outdoor restaurant is the idyllic repository for a white ceramic jardiniere by Joseph Mitrani of Greenport Pottery. For the lobby, Ms. Keyes shepherded a group of Springs women to handcraft hundreds of bowling-ball-size orbs strung with twine to hang from the ceiling.
In February Ms. Keyes coordinated a Viennese art walk in New York as part of Carnegie Hall’s Vienna City of Dreams festival, and she organized four New York galleries to display works indicative of Vienna’s contemporary visual arts scene. A show for Walter Us, who hails from Vienna, was held at Mark Borghi Fine Art on March 16. The work of Erwin Wurm can be seen at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery on West 26th Street through April 26.
In keeping with her upscale projects, Ms. Keyes will be curating the art on a 180-foot yacht in Cannes from the fleet of Camper and Nicholsons, a luxury yacht brokerage, during an international boat show in September.
Meanwhile, like last year, this summer Ms. Keyes will once again work with Scott Murphy of Shelter Island and Lucas Lai of Sagaponack to stage shows at Dirt Gallery, their pop-up space in Wainscott.