An open letter to the artists planning to participate in the June 18 show in the former Capitol Fishing Tackle storefront at the Chelsea Hotel:
Although some of you may not know this, the Capitol Fishing Tackle is Manhattan’s oldest bait & tackle shop, and had called the Chelsea Hotel home since 1954. Sadly, in August of 2006 the shop was given a rent increase of more than double its previous rent and forced to move from the Hotel. The increase came as the direct result of pressure brought to bear by minority shareholders Marlene Krauss and David Elder on then manager Stanley Bard.
The move did not buy Stanley much time. On June 18, 2007 the Bard family, majority owners of the Chelsea Hotel, were forced from their management role in a hostile takeover by Krauss and Elder, eager to cash in on the short term profits promised by the superheated real estate climate of the day.
It was a sad day for artists and friends of the arts worldwide. The Bard family had managed the hotel since 1942, including almost 50 years by the inimitable Stanley, who is known and loved by several generations of artists who have called the Chelsea Hotel home. Stanley’s son, David, was scheduled to take over the reins of the hotel, until he too was unjustly ousted.
The reason that you, fellow artists, know of the Chelsea Hotel and it’s important role in the arts is because of the hard work of the Bard family. The Bards provided inexpensive housing and a supportive environment for people in the arts for over 60 years. They played host to the Beats and action painters of the 50s, the Warhol crowd of the 60s, and the punk rockers of the 80s, among countless others.
Krauss and Elder, on the other hand, have made clear that their intention is to evict the permanent tenants and transform the Chelsea into a boutique tourist hotel. They are not admitting any more permanent residents into the hotel, thus ending a tradition that had endured for almost 125 years.
Because Krauss and Elder have been stymied in their eviction and renovation plans by legal action, the work of dedicated tenant activists, and the downturn in the economy, they are now trying to create good press by posing as “patrons of the arts”. But they threw out the true patrons of the arts.
All of you are stellar artists. However, please note the date of the proposed Krauss and Elder sponsored show in the Capitol Fishing Tackle space, for it is in no way random. You are being invited to participate in a celebration of the two-year anniversary of Krauss and Elder’s hostile takeover. In keeping with your personal and artistic integrity, we ask that you not participate in this sham.