RISK is a man with a lot going on. The artist also known as Kelly Graval is a legend among taggers, writers and muralists for his heroic lettering and, perhaps even more so, his eye-popping large-scale color-wash pours. He long ago added a solid gallery practice and curatorial efforts to his outdoor heroics, and in addition to museum shows, books and film projects, he’s also been busy curating the entire situation at the newly renovated Mayfair Hotel in downtown. It’s a lot.
The Hotel Figueroa downtown turns 92 years old this month and marked the occasion with a multilevel bash this week at the newly renovated landmark.
Built in 1925 by the YWCA as a hotel for women, it officially opened in 1926 and was conceived by women, for women. The top nine floors were reserved for business, traveling and professional women. Only the second and third floors were open to men and their families. One of L.A.’s original feminists, Maude Bouldin, managed the thriving social scene in the grand foyer with its towering ceilings.
Up until 2015, when the Moroccan-style lobby became cold and spooky and had more flies buzzing around it than actual customers, which may have been part of its creepy charm for a while. It became a funky oasis for foreign tourists and Grammy-winning artists who wanted to fly under the radar after the awards ceremony.
Some say it was haunted, with elevators stopping at random floors and lights flickering without explanation. In an effort to survive, the storied building rented out its exterior walls as billboards for film companies. As with many graying old ladies it was getting lonely, sad and in need of a makeover. Last November the Hotel Figueroa closed its massive doors for a three-year transformation.
Staying true to the building’s Spanish Colonial Architecture, Rockefeller Partners Architects and Studio Collective came in and breathed stunning new life into the building with a Western Mediterranean style that includes five restaurants and bar concepts.
This week’s birthday party included a massive seafood paella feast at the edge of the hotel’s casket-shaped pool and rotisserie prime rib as well as signature cocktails.
After that, things got a little fuzzy…
A select few were issued special keys for an intimate, Basque-inspired dinner by chef Casey Lane in the Casbah (a hidden, mirrored dining room upstairs) and drinks in the adjoining reservations-only Bar Alta, which will be opening in the next month.
Served tableside, Dushan Zaric’s elevated cocktails included the Distance and Elegance, with Junipero gin, pineapple sage rum, lime, aquafaba, absinthe and a sprinkling of gold dust.
Lane’s bacchanal buffet included Breva’s signature bone marrow with chimichurri and celery salad, more paella, dry-aged steak and blistered shishito peppers. Platters of roasted chicken, chanterelles and sauce au poivre lined the table, and frisee and watercress salads overflowed with plums and almonds.
Now, let us take you to the Casbah…
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