The James

The words "hotel art" usually call to mind posters of Water Lilies and bad Americana landscapes. But at The James, a new boutique hotel in Chicago, a permanent installation by the artist Joel Ross gives the phrase another meaning. Guests heading for the elevators will find the dismantled contents of a real-life motel room, tightly packed in stacks of vintage suitcases. Called Room 28, the work dates from 1997, when Ross checked in to a West Texas motor lodge and over the next 13 hours pro-ceeded to steal the room lock, stock, and barrel using 50 suit-cases and a camper. Furniture was disassembled. Mattresses were carved into luggage-size pieces. The television, the lamps, the smoke detector—everything but the plumbing fixtures—were packed up and hauled away. Nearly a decade later Ross still has misgivings about the heist. "I don't take the legal and moral aspect lightly," he says. But guests at The James appear unruffled. "People are fascinated by the piece," says hotel co-owner Brad Wilson. "If anything, they're concerned that Joel will get caught." From $250 to $2,000. At 55 E. Ontario St.; 877-526-3755;