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Stories from Commodore Perry Estate

Stories from Commodore Perry Estate

Do Auberge ArtSalon - A Reverberation

It is often said that artists hold up a mirror to society. If this is the case, then their art serves as a prism through which we can view the times we live in, often from an entirely new perspective. In the Auberge ArtSalon series, six emerging artists will turn their own unique gaze on six iconic Auberge retreats to create art installations that reflect each property’s individual character, setting, heritage, and place in the world today. 


At The Commodore Perry Estate in Austin, Texas-born artist and photographer, Delaney Allen, has created a deceptively illusory, multi-element installation with vivid floral motifs centered around the rose. The flower is omnipresent at the estate, blooming profusely in its 10 acres of manicured gardens and echoing throughout its interior design. A Reverberation was inspired by these floral echoes, as well as the estate’s jardin à la Française ambience and its maximalist Ken Fulk design. Here we speak to Delaney to learn more about his installation and how he created his striking trompe l’oeil floral wallpapers.


What is it about The Commodore (physical or otherwise) that appeals to you on an artistic level?


I grew up around the corner from the estate without realizing it even existed. To discover that it was there all the time – this incredible calmness in a city setting – was my first impression. Then I noticed the incredible detail. The design aesthetic carried throughout blends a playful charm with the most elegant of backdrops.


Why do you think that you were chosen as the artist for The Commodore?


I feel that the style of photography I’ve developed over the past decade captures elements of beauty while also displaying a certain mystique. This, combined with my previous background in design and retail display allows me to move beyond strictly 2D imagery into an installation project like what I’ve created at The Commodore Perry Estate. With my artworks, I always aim to catch the eye of viewers and disrupt their perception, while creating an immersive environment that makes them feel part of the installation. I think that this was important for this particular property.


Can you tell us more about how you developed the concept for your installation?


The theme (and name) of the installation is A Reverberation, with roses as the central motif. They literally echo throughout the property in floral elements inside the mansion and outside in the gardens. The hallway installation, titled Still Life, was created first and its deconstruction led to the inspiration for the elevator space, titled Rose Water, which is intended to serve as an immersive opportunity for hotel guests. With its secretive, hidden existence in the mansion, the installation allows for surprise and intrigue when discovered. The word “Reverberation” also pays homage to Austin’s distinct musical history as it was the name of a song by a celebrated local band from the 1960s called the 13th Floor Elevators!


How did you go about choosing the other floral elements?


Moving beyond the rose, I looked for pops of color to interplay in my Rose Water images. The roses set the foundation on which I could build, while the other flowers provided the visual elements I felt were needed to complete the images.


How did you photograph the wallpapers with the flowers semi-submerged?


I obtained a printmaking tray and experimented with varying colors using a combination of food coloring along with milk, water, or cola. By not filling the tray to its brim, you’re able to still allow for the larger flowers to sit on the bottom so they appear to be floating in the liquid. Lighter elements generally do, in fact, float allowing for a nice blend. This process also allows for play and experimentation, as nothing is set and things are easily interchangeable. 


Repurposing the out-of-use elevator as part of the installation is inspired. How did this come about?


Originally the idea was to utilize the space as an actual photobooth, but this shifted due to logistics and the idea matured into its current state. Tucked away within the mansion like a secret, its intention is to serve as an immersive opportunity for guests to almost stumble upon, with the wallpaper providing a backdrop for moments of personal photography.


What do you hope that guests will get out of their experience of the installation?


I wish for guests to find moments to pause with the work. On its base layer, there’s a simple beauty. But its immersive size should also bring alive the smaller details for the viewer. 


What is your favorite activity or sightseeing spot in Austin?


As a Texan and a former Austin resident, I’m drawn to the outdoors while in the area. McKinney Falls State Park sits within the city limits, and Pedernales Falls State Park is a short drive from the city center. Beyond that, my Austin experience has revolved around music. The Continental Club, Donn’s Depot and Mohawk are just a few venues I can mention that I’ve grown up with.

 Stories from Commodore Perry Estate