Fair Oaks Farms® first hotel, Fairfield by Marriott®, will boast 99 rooms and suites. Fairfield by Marriott Fair Oaks Farms is unique in its contemporary barn exterior, layout, and custom interior design. Furthermore, the hotel’s public spaces and guest bedrooms will feature original artwork created by three renowned artists. The final featured artist is R. Tom Gilleon.
About the Artist
Raised by his grandparents, R. Tom Gilleon grew up in Starke, Florida. After graduating high school, he accepted a baseball scholarship from the University of Florida. Gilleon’s childhood dream was to be a professional baseball pitcher. However, “architecture and its attention to form, composition, and structure” caught his attention. Then, Gilleon left college and joined the Navy. Next, he worked as an illustrator for NASA’s Apollo space program. Later, Gilleon worked as an Imagineer at Disneyland.
Creative Inspiration & Process
First, it is important to note that R. Tom Gilleon’s grandparents’ heritage and aesthetics of their simple living have an important influence on the artist’s work. For instance, his grandfather was a Scottish immigrant; meanwhile, his grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee. As a result, the American West left a mesmerizing impact on him as an artist. In fact, Gilleon and his wife, Laurie, purchased a ranch in Montana.
“I moved to Montana thirty years ago and decided I could never live anywhere else. Being in a place like this makes you appreciate the Native American way of life. They didn’t stand outside of the natural world looking in. They were part of it. My work is largely an attempt to bridge the gap between their way of seeing things and ours.”
Also, their property has been an endless source of inspiration for Gilleon. Interestingly, the world famous western artist C.M. Russell visited his ranch. Moreover, Gilleon has slept out on the prairie, sketching within tipi rings of Western wanderers, imagining how their camps may have looked centuries ago.
For more information about R. Tom Gilleon’s work, please click the links below:
- The Iconic West of R. Tom Gilleon – Booth Western Art Museum
- Let Icons Be Icons – The Art of R. Tom Gilleon at C.M. Russell Museum
The Art of Hospitality
After completing his pieces for the Fairfield by Marriott Fair Oaks Farms commission, Gilleon said the following:
“I own and live on a ranch in Montana, one that was often visited by the world famous western artist, Charlie Russell (C.M. Russell), who was a personal friend of the man who homesteaded and developed what is now my ranch. Many of my paintings are of the same locations Charlie depicted in his art.
Although it is nearly 100 years later, I still feel a connection to his work and his wit.
Later in his life when Charlie had become a recognized artist, many people claimed to be his best friend, some he had never met, leading to his quote, ‘I have a lot more good friends than people I’ve met up with.’
Perhaps my favorite quote of his or of anyone else is, ‘Any man that can make a living doing what he likes is lucky, and I am that. Any time I cash in now, I win.’
I would borrow these two quotes to define my work with Fair Oaks Farms. For nearly 15 years, I have known and worked with Michael McCall, a good friend I had never physically met. We finally shook hands this year on the Fair Oaks Farms Marriott project.
The second quote is more descriptive of this work (that really never felt like work)…as working with Michael and Barbara McCall has always been interesting and fun. Michael introduced me to the McCloskey family and Fair Oaks Farms many years ago, and the McCalls and the McCloskeys have felt like my family ever since, leading me to repeat once again Charlie’s words: Any man that can make a living doing what he likes is lucky, and I am that. Any time I cash in now, I win.”
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