Art of the Bowl

Artist Olivia Steele found inspiration in an unlikely place, a Miami Beach bowling alley.

Edition Bowling Ball

One of the most Instagram-friendly spots in Miami Beach can be found at The Miami Beach EDITION. It’s not by the pool, its restaurants, bars or even rooms that face the beach. It’s in the basement. In a bowling alley.

The Basement, a 6,300-square foot underground complex, is bathed in rainbow light. In the four-lane bowling alley and adjacent ice-skating rink, the colors react to the guests’ movements and thumping bass, while contemporary artist Olivia Steele‘s neon installations add an ethereal ambiance.

One of her pieces, hung against sheer curtains in the skating rink, looks as if it’s floating in the air—fleeting words, as if composed by sparklers on the 4th of July. “I had too much to dream last night,” the illuminated text reads. Another, above the bowling lanes, coyly asks, “What if this is all real?”

Edition Bowling Alley Olivia Steele

Steele installed these works in The Basement during Art Basel in 2015, and due to its success, The Miami Beach EDITION asked her, along with and two other artists — Kehinde Wiley and Alex Becerra — to create custom bowling balls, inspired by the boutique hotel.

To launch the initiative, the hotel enlisted art’s top echelon. “EDITION curated the bowling balls with Half Gallery based in NYC,” explains Ben Pundole, VP of Brand Experience for EDITION Hotels. “We opened the hotel over Art Basel Miami Beach and wanted to have as many artists and creatives involved as possible.”

Edition Bowling Ball

At the center of Half Gallery is Bill Powers, an art-world icon who’s tapped into exhibitions and emerging artists from New York City to Los Angeles and, Pundole says, all over the world. “We were thrilled when he came onboard to support us with this fun concept,” he adds.

As for the the artists, the challenge was simple enough: “I love everything about the hotel,” Steele says. “I feel so good when I’m there.”

Steele was particularly inspired by the hotel’s look and feel, which combines retro glam with millennial vibes.

The lobby features white marble floors and gold columns from 1955, with perfectly lit palms that cast leafy shadows onto the ceiling.

At the pool, bougainvillea climb up an art deco diving board, and teak loungers and private cabanas are sprinkled across the lush landscape.

“I wanted to create a bowling ball that reflected that sleek and fresh aesthetic,” Steele says, and decided to re-imagine “Future Memories,” a neon piece she had installed in The Basement nightclub.

“I wanted [my] bowling ball [to have] a direct relationship with the hotel,” Steele says. But translating her ethereal work into 10- and 12-pound bowling balls proved to be a challenge. “I never did anything even remotely close so it took a minute for me to get my head around it.”

Olivia Steele Edition Bowling Ball

From a previous multimedia installation, Steele selected a still image of the pink neon piece amid billowing, dark clouds. Then, she embarked on the “complicated process” of rendering a 1D photograph into a 3D object.

“Turning [it] into a seamless, beautiful sphere was a major challenge,” she admits.

But Steele embraced the hurdles: “I truly believe that every obstacle is a hidden opportunity,” she says. “It was, and continues to be, so satisfying to see the final product and outcome.”

It’s also an example of how the innovative artist interprets her neon work in other mediums, making it more tangible and evocative in the process.

“It’s a great way to touch and experience my art,” says Steele, who displays her signature bowling ball on her coffee table at home. “It’s a great conversation piece,” she adds.

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