The Chelsea community is united this week in mourning the passing of one of its own, artist Lloyd M. Rucker. Although the exact circumstances of Lloyd’s death are still under investigation, on the 18th of this month his body was discovered by a hotel staff member in his small room on the first floor.
Lloyd was born on March 24, 1957, and grew up in Virginia. At the age of 16 he left home and moved to New York City, living where ever he could find a place to stay for the night, and learning to scrape by as best he could. In the early eighties he moved into the Chelsea Hotel, and knew at once he’d found a home. Lloyd lived in the Chelsea for (approximately) the next 28 years. For many years, Lloyd lived on the fifth floor in a room facing 23rd St. At some point, however, he moved to a smaller room on the first floor, where he lived for several years with his then wife YenWen Chen. Lloyd, who was quite distraught at the recent destruction of the Chelsea, had recently been fighting eviction in housing court.
Lloyd worked primarily as a painter. He loved color, both in his manner of dress and his art. Several of Lloyd’s paintings were, until the Chetrits’ recent anti-beautification campaign, on display throughout the hotel. Lloyd’s style was eclectic, his canvases alternately abstract and realistic. (You may remember the two that hung in the stairwell: one depicted a man in a hat riding a bird; the other was a swirling yellow and orange abstract.) A true Renaissance Man, Lloyd was also a collagist, a musician (he played the guitar and sang), a songwriter, a poet, and an artist’s model.
Graceful and poised, as one would expect of a model, Lloyd was also very strong physically and very body-conscious, a gentle giant. He was a true gentleman, his ex-wife, Yen, told us, an extraordinarily kind and caring individual. He didn’t care for money, and would share what little he had with others, frequently buying food for the homeless. Though he loved people, Lloyd was a private individual and typically didn’t complain about anything. He was someone who could always get by on his own, and he taught Yen, too, how to survive in the city.
Though Lloyd loved life, he wasn’t afraid of death. He would say he had just graduated to another plane of existence. All he asked was that he be allowed to live and die at his beloved Chelsea Hotel. And while he may not have wanted to go so soon, in the end he got his wish. Lloyd believed that if he was to return to this Earth he would come back as a flower—that’s what he called himself, in fact, the Iron Flower, because he was beautiful but also strong.
Lloyd is survived by his ex-wife, YenWen Chen, and by several family members from Virginia, including his mother and father. Our thoughts go out to Lloyd’s family and friends in their time of bereavement. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time but we will update the blog as more details become available.