We are three independent writers and filmmakers shooting an independent documentary about the Chelsea Hotel, El Quijote restaurant and, in general, the past, present and future of these two cultural institutions of NYC.
So far we have interviewed many personalities related to the hotel: past and present tenants, cultural analysts, writers, artists, etc. So in order to better illustrate all these testimonials, we are going to need all kind of images for the movie.
If you have photographs, videos, etc. of the hotel, whether professional or amateur, beautiful or ugly, ancient or modern, from the lobby, front desk, stairs, the art that was hanging on the walls, etc., etc., it would be fantastic if you want to share them with us.
Unfortunately our budget is ridiculous, and we cannot pay for them, but we assure you that your name will appear in the credits of the film as a collaborator and the pictures will be properly credited. And, needless to say, your generous help will be of great importance to this love letter that we are devoting to one the most iconic places for the literature, music, acting, etc.,of the last century.
As for the technical aspects, the ideal is that the photos are large (200-300 dpi and 2,500 px of size). However, in case they are smaller, we could consider them to be included. If you have the pictures in paper, we could work out how to scan them.
The Chelsea Hotel community mourns the passing of one of its guiding lights, the poet, painter, art critic, and Warhol Superstar Rene Ricard, who died this past Saturday, Feb. 1. The cause of death was cancer.
Rene, who will always be remembered for his quick wit, sparkling intellect, and generosity, passed away at the hospital surrounded by some of his many close friends. Rene, who had lived at the Chelsea Hotel continuously since the early 90s and sporadically before that, was 68.
Rene was probably the most famous remaining member of the (now seriously depleted) Chelsea Hotel community. And no account of the history of the Chelsea Hotel, or of its famous creative energy, is complete without him. In fact, in these dark times when the city, including the Chelsea Hotel, is being carved up by developers, those of us fighting against gentrification, would do well to remember Rene as the very embodiment of the New York artistic bohemia that we seek to preserve. Rene was one of the last of a dying breed, someone for whom money was secondary, and who survived in the city by his wits and the force of his personality and his larger-than-life talent and artistic vision.
Poet, artist, actor, dancer, critic, jack-of-all-trades and all-around wild man, Rene Ricard was born in 1946 and grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He ran away to Boston at age sixteen, where he supported himself by working as an artist’s model, and by eighteen he was in New York City, becoming involved with Andy Warhol’s Factory scene. Warhol soon cast Rene in a movie, Kitchen, in which he spends most of his time with his back to the camera, washing dishes, while Edie Sedgwick sneezes and runs a malted machine to cover up the fact that she’s forgotten her lines. Rene had a better role in 1965’sChelsea Girls, in which he stars in the “Boys in Bed” episode, rolling around in his underwear with two other boys in a room at the Chelsea Hotel. In his (and Edie’s) last film for Warhol, The Andy Warhol Story, Rene embarks on a speed-fueled diatribe, rattling off every nasty thing he can think of to say about Andy. This is the kind of part Rene was born for, and surely it must have been his finest role, but sadly the film has been lost. An art critic in the eighties, in 1981 Rene published “The Radiant Child,” the first major article about Jean Michel Basquiat, in Artforum. Rene has published three books of his poetry: Rene Ricard (1979), God With Revolver (1989), and Trusty Sarcophagus Co. (1990), and was portrayed by the actor Michael Wincott in Julian Schnabel’s 1996 film Basquiat. Rene brought out a book of his art in a limited edition in 2003.
The King of the Chelsea Eccentrics, Rene gives one the sense of a being not of this world. He flits around the hotel, ethereal-like, on a cloud of his own creation. Tall and gaunt with a wispy goatee, a porkpie hat atop his head, he’s a bundle of nervous energy, unable to sit still. Rene is quite learned and knowledgeable about art and culture and many other subjects besides. When he speaks he’s agitated, restless, wringing his hands, almost frantic sometimes—though often he positively bubbles with good humor. His speech can best be described as a sort of off-the-cuff intellectual rant. Though what he says is never uninteresting, and you’ll always want to hear more, he speaks quickly and is gone. Blink and you might miss him. If you’re lucky enough to run into Rene on the elevator, he will sometimes share a poem, often an obscene or ribald one. He’s often seen with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, and the mind immediately turns to thoughts of fire. (Source: Legends of the ChelseaHotel, DaCapo 2007; Photo: Wallpaper)
The fire, of course, was in Rene’s fevered and intensely creative imagination. Like all of us at the Chelsea Hotel, since the ouster of the Bard Family in June 2007, Rene had been engaged in the struggle to save his home and his way of life. And though he managed, for the most part, to keep himself above the fray, the stress—construction noise, poisonous dust, denial of services, and disrespect—and the uncertainty connected with the constant threat of eviction, no doubt took their toll on him as well. But Rene was not one to succumb to despair. At the time of his death Rene was experiencing a rebirth in the interest of his paintings, fueled by a successful Vito Schnable –curated show of his work.
Rene’s close friend Rita Barros says, “Rene died on his own terms and surrounded by his close friends. We will all miss him dearly. New York will never be the same without him.” Whatever happens to Rene’s earthly shell, and to the shell of this old Hotel, Rene’s creative fire, and the spirit of the Chelsea Hotel that he embodied will live on.
A simple gathering with a blessing to send Rene off in peace, will be held this Thursday, February 6, 2014, from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm at Greenwich Village Funeral Home, 199 Bleecker Street, NY NY 10012
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.
Daniel, who owned Daniel Reich Gallery, on West 23rd St., moved out of the Chelsea Hotel sometime around late 2011 or early 2012. After battling eviction in Housing Court, he reportedly took a small amount of money from the Chetrits in exchange for vacating his apartment.
The Utrecht Art Supplies store across the street from the Chelsea Hotel is being gutted! I guess with the artists being evicted from the Chelsea, there's no one left to buy art supplies. Actually, not to worry, the sign on the art store's door says they'll be reopening on August 18. Maybe they're going to start selling mold test kits and HEPA filters in their new incarnation, as that's what the artists need now more than paint brushes.
As if we needed reminding that the Chelsea is over! After Patti Smith retained her integrity by cancelling her management-sponsored concert for the Chelsea Hotel tenants, King and Grove (the management company run by Ed Sheetz and Ben Pundole) vowed that they would continue to hold “cultural” events at the hotel. We are pleased to announce that they have kept their word.
Based on the available evidence, we are forced to conclude that this event will be some kind of quasi-religious ceremony for people seeking absolution from the sin of collaborating with the despoilers of the Chelsea Hotel. Expect a big turnout!
[Note: in case you don’t recognize the picture, that’s Pope Ondine from Chelsea Girls. He is looking down from that great confessional in the sky.]
The Virtual Hotel Chelsea which was created by Mykal Skall in May 2009 was recently forced to scale back its operations because to keep the Virtual Hotel Chelsea afloat was taking a considerable amount of energy, money, and time of a few dedicated individuals. Mykal's announcement that he would have to close the Virtual Hotel Chelsea was met with sorrow by supporters inside and outside of the virtual world. However, sentiments aren't accepted as payment even in Second Life. So, here is how you can use your real life resources to help keep the Virtual Chelsea Hotel going. And be generous, these guys have a lot of restoration to do.
Paypal -email@example.com just for donations to this project. It was said to us that if 100 people who cared about the Hotel donated just $20, that would sustain our operating costs for 1 year. We’ve already started receiving donations and it looks like this can be a reality.
Sponsorships - We are also seeking creative ways to sustain this project over time, or at least until LL goes belly up some day (at which point we will move it elsewhere for posterity) and are considering the following ideas:
If you donate at the $200 level you’ll get a virtual bronze plaque on the outside of the hotel!
If you donate at the $100 level we can place your name on one of the mailboxes!
If you donate $20 or more, you’ll get a virtual bronze sunflower placed on the stairwell railings!
You can always stop by the current build by joining SL to see the progress and donate to any of the spinning “Warhol Soup Cans” that you see.
We can make a virtual version of your business, gallery, etc. in SL near the Chelsea, or corporate sponsorships, (Chetrit, Krauss, et. al. excluded!), or advertising for a monthly fee.
You could sponsor a “special” virtual item that would remain in the hotel for guests and visitors to see, maybe the baby carriage, a famous author’s desk, or Sid’s bass?
We are also seeking partnerships from RL musical artists, indy labels, and gallery owners. This gives your artists a live outlet from the comfort of their own home or studio, and gives us new talent in SL.
Mykal writes "We will be back up and running very, very soon, and can’t wait to welcome our SL dysfunctional family back. Anyone who was renting at the time of the shut-down will get two months free rent, and we are currently taking reservations for the prime spots.
We will of course be providing the best of SL’s singer/songwriters on a weekly basis, but also have some new events coming up, such as a regular open mic poetry night, listening parties of albums by Chelsea related artists, and readings of literature by Hotel authors!
In an article in the New York Daily News Chelsea Hotel resident Collen Weinstein discusses her unsuccessful efforts to have her husband's artwork, which was removed from the walls of the Chelsea Hotel, returned. Her lawyer says: " In November, ... the artwork was put on a truck and that his client saw one of the works loaded and "not properly wrapped." He says Sirkin (Chelsea Hotel Manager Lilly Sirkin) refused to reveal where the art is and that the hotel won't let Weinstein remove a mobile of her husband's that hangs on the 10th floor."
We called the cops that day in November when we saw that Colleen's paintings and other art works from the Hotel were being thrown into the back of a Budget Rental Van. Sargent Fields refused to take a report, saying it was civil matter (since when is it a civil matter when someone steals your property off of your wall and refuses to give it back). We too (as well an many other residents) were told that if we got a signed letter from Stanley Bard stating that the Hotel did not own the item that was removed from the wall that it would be returned. Although we provided the proof demanded the work was still not returned, and so far, we've gotten nothing but a run around from Lily Sirkin and Michael Butler. Many other tenants have received the same treatment. Here's a pic of the license plate number of the Budget Rental Van that hauled the art away in November.
We stole our headline from Jeremiah's Vanishing New York. Jeremiah's brillant idea is to call for a "Die in" at the Chelsea Hotel tonight at 8 pm to coincide with Patti Smith's proposed concert in the Chelsea Hotel ballroom (Richard Bernstein's former apt.). Patti played last night for the developers and their friends. And tonight she is going to try to get the tenants on board with the developers program whatever it is. While the concert is going on with probably very few if any residents in attendance protesters will meet outside the Chelsea Hotel, raise lit lighters, and recite the lycris of Patti's song "People Have the Power". Bring umbrellas in case of rain. There may be other protests going on as well. Stay tuned. Details about the Flash Mob "Die in" are here and here. UPDATE: "DIE IN" logo has been provided by one of the Hotel's artists-in-residence.
Here’s what remains of Beat writer Herbert Huncke’s room. Huncke, who inspired characters in Ginsberg’s Howl, Kerouac’s On the Road, and Burrough’s Junky, lived a hand-to-mouth existence in this rent stabilized room until his death. He could have never afforded to live in NYC if the Chetrits of the world had had their way. Underpaid, non-union demolition crews working with Joe and Meyer Chetrit, Jonathan Chetrit, Gene Kaufman, and Ed Scheetz, just to name a few of the characters involved , are taking rent-stabilized rooms off the books and destroying important chapters in New York history as they do so.
Tom Acitelli of the Observer, was here at the Chelsea Hotel on Thursday, too early to observe the Chelsea’s art collection being removed from the walls, stairwells and halls, being carted off to god knows where. Of course not all of the artworks that were removed belonged to the Hotel. Some belonged to the individual tenants and they have been told to contact the Chelsea Dynasty Corp. and provide proof of ownership to negotiate the return of their belongings. Chelsea Dynasty? Sounds like a bad Chinese takeout joint.
As we stated in our post yesterday, a number of paintings were removed from the hotel on Wednesday, July 20, reportedly thrown carelessly into the back of a van and taken to an unknown location. An artist who saw her painting being removed was able to rescue it as it was being carried out. She reported that the paintings were being taken from Stanley’s office, which has been used for storage since our illustrious proprietor’s ouster in June 2007. Now we have received credible reports that all the work that was in the tourist rooms has also been removed.
One significant casualty is a painting by the artist Alpheous Philemon Cole that hung behind the desk for many years until it was removed sometime during the tenure of the new management and put into storage. Cole, born in 1876, moved into the Chelsea at the age of 81, and lived here for 35 years until his death in 1988, at the time the world’s oldest living man at the astounding age of 112! (Whenever anbody asked Stanley Bard about all of the tragic deaths that had taken place at the Hotel he would invaribly deflect the question by citing the case of Alpheous Cole, the world's oldest living man, as more representative of the Chelsea Hotel experience. Below is Claudio Edinger’s portrait of Cole, which was taken a few years before the painter’s death.) Cole’s painting was spotted being heaved into the van along with the others. Unfortunately, we have been unable to find a photo of the painting, reportedly a portrait of a young man. Our readers could be of help here: if you have a photo or any information about the painting, or other paintings that you think may have been removed, please let us know. Your help will be greatly appreciated.
We have a few lingering questions. Was management authorized to remove these paintings? Were the artists contacted? Where are the paintings being stored, and are they being stored properly? Will artists who fear their work was among the paintings removed be allowed to visit the site to reclaim it? Not all of the paintings hanging on the walls of the rooms were owned by the hotel, as evidenced by the artist who rescued hers. Many had merely loaned their work to the hotel. At the very least, management needs to provide a list of the works that were removed from the hotel. -- Ed Hamilton
In a recent, distressing trend at the Chelsea, art works have been disappearing from the walls, some of them never to be seen again. These fall into a few distinct categories:
1. Evicted Art: several resident artists removed their canvasses after they were evicted.
2. Trashed Art: at least two significant art works were discovered in the trash on 23rd Street: a framed sketch of Arthur Miller by the artist Rene Shapshack; and a painting by a resident artist that once graced Stanley Bard’s office (the latter reportedly worth about $10,000).
3. Stolen Art: paintings by two deceased artists, Herbert Gentry and Arthur Weinstein, have been reported stolen by their widows. Gentry is a world-renowned artist, and his painting was worth upwards of $50,000.
4. Mystery Art: several canvasses have disappeared with no trace, including two by the Japanese Artist Hiroya, one a large collaborative canvas that was very popular with tourists, the other a Dee Dee Ramone tribute.
Padamsee’s canvas was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Montreal in 1960, and, according to Sotheby’s catalog, entered a “private collection” shortly thereafter. Though it is not specified in the catalog, that would presumably be the collection of Stanley Bard, ousted manager of the Chelsea Hotel.
We are also very concerned as to the fate of two angular canvases by the Australian artist Brett Whiteley, (seen above the desk in 2008 and in 2010 in the photos) whose work has recently been commanding prices in the millions of dollars. The last time we caught a glimpse of these paintings, they were stacked against a wall in Stanley’s office; but now, according to an anonymous tipster, several paintings were observed being carted out of the hotel last Wednesday and taken away in a van. Probably we will see them up for sale at Christie’s soon enough.
For now, residents are left to stare forlornly at blank spaces on the discolored walls of our lobby and stairwell as we mourn the looting of our proud artistic tradition. At the very least, part of that $1.4 million windfall should be used to compensate the widows whose husband’s stolen paintings formed an integral part of that tradition.
We found this paint ing and the accompanying note in the stairwell near Hiroya's "DE DE" painting. Looks like the faithful punk rockers are still flocking to the Chelsea. It also seems that Tara's dark pilgrimage was rewarded with a message from beyond. This is the first Dee Dee spirit story that has come our way, but we're sure there will be many more to follow.
Well, we’re a bit late in announcing it, but a film about under appreciated Chelsea Hotel artist Bettina was recently shown at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.The film, “Girl with the Black Balloons” by Dutch filmmaker Corinne van der Borch chronicles Bettina’s life and artwork, the latter reputedly rejected by the Museum of Modern Art because they said it couldn’t be the work of one person.Though I have yet to see van der Borch’s film, I do know that the title refers to a rather large bunch of black balloons that one morning appeared mysteriously floating above Bettina’s wheelchair.It wasn’t mysterious that they were floating, of course, since they were filled with helium, but Bettina just didn’t know how they got there. Well, at last, the mystery has been solved: I put them there!
Sandra Weimar, a German photographer, was using them for a photo shoot in Madonna's sex room for a fashion spread for one of the international edition's of Vogue and when she was done she gave them to me. I knew Bettina would like them.
In 1988, one year after Andy Warhol’s untimely death, Catherine Colard and her friends came over from Belgium to do a report on the surviving Warhol scene. According to Colard, their search for former Factory regulars began at the Sotheby's sale of Warhol belongings and memorabilia. Continuing to the Chelsea Hotel, they found Warhol Superstar Viva & Allen Midgette in residence. In the photos below, Colard poses in clothing handmade by Allen Midgette, who in turn poses as Warhol. Midgette’s designs were inspired by both Warhol’s art and by American Indian culture. You can find more photos on Catherine's facebook page. Finally, check out Catherine and her friends hanging out in the famous historic lobby. Some things never change.
concern at this point is for the structural integrity of the building, and
especially for the fate of the
magnificent Beaux Art mural on the ceiling of Stanley’s office, an original
feature of the hotel, built in 1883. Other original features of the office include the marble floor and two fire places.
Obviously, any disturbance to the floor or the walls of the office
threatens to destabilize the ceiling, which likely would result in irreparable
tears to the mural, which is actually a large painted canvas that has been
stretched and affixed to the ornate ceiling.(As you can see, there are several matching canvases affixed to the
surrounding walls.)Furthermore, dust
from the demolition is likely to damage the mural if great care is not taken to
of his ambitious ten-year renovation project for the hotel, Stanley Bard had
the mural restored in 2000.We have been
in contact with the restorer, Lisa Rosen of Fine Art Restoration, who
writes to describe the costly and laborious process:
"The painting was obfuscated with 129 years of New York City smog, soot, nicotine
and surface dirt. The once transparent final layer of protective varnish
had also altered, turning first yellow and then brown (see photo ). The restorative cleaning procedure took five weeks of intensive
physical labor using 'q-tip's' and idoneous solvent to finally arrive at
you see today. What you see now is how the painted canvas looked
originally leaving the master's studio before being adhered to the hotel
In the 1880's the height of chic was to hire Italian artists to come to New York City and decorate the
splendid private mansions and elegant hotels of the Belle Epoque. America was striving to keep up
and prove itself with Old World style. These
artists were also responsible for the interior decorations of the historical
villas in Newport, R.I..
The ChelseaHotel is a perfect example of
the New World imitating Old World luxury. Stanley
Bard's former office in fact had originally been the Ladies Powder Room.
The painted ceiling, the stucco decorations and even the stained glass in the windows
of Bard's former office reflect the suave elegance that the hotel represented."
As you can see by the before
and after pictures, Rosen has
done a great job.It would be a shame if this irreparable mural were lost due to careless
and/or malicious action on the part of hotel management, who might have other
ideas about what a chi-chi
club should look like.
In a recently published article, Sherill Tippins traces the origins of the ChelseaHotel’s role as nexus of the artistic community to the French utopian socialist philosopher Charles Fourier’s influence upon architect Phillip Hubert. It’s Tippins contention that when Hubert completed the building in 1884 it encapsulated Fourier’s notion of art social – a philosophical ideal whereby artists have the role of “unifying a diverse population and guiding it forward in its evolution.”Tippins history of the ChelseaHotel, which will be published later this year, will show how Fourier’s ideas have anchored the Hotel throughout its many incarnations. Below is an excerpt from the article.
“…. the Chelsea’s physical and economic design resembled in many ways those of a standard phalanstery, so the social makeup of its Association echoed that recommended by Fourier for a phalanx in its infancy : a central core of cultivators and manufacturers, a smaller population of capitalists, scholars, and artists for the sake of economic survival, psychological balance, and spiritual growth ; and a Board of Directors manned by the wealthiest and most knowledgeable members of the cooperative.  At the Chelsea, located not in the country but in the midst of an urban environment then under massive construction, the “cultivators and manufacturers” were represented by real estate developers, builders, and contractors then involved in the creative process of “growing” the city -in this case including most of the people who literally built, equipped, and decorated the Chelsea itself. The “capitalists, scholars, and artists” included not only by the painters and sculptors in the fifteen top-floor studios, but by a number of musicians, actors, authors, professors, bibliophiles, financiers, and wealthy philanthropists who lived downstairs. And with a founding Board of Directors that included a well-known stockbroker, a former president of the Merchants and Traders’ Exchange, a future governor of Virginia, and the president of the company that installed the Chelsea’s innovative, patented roof, the call for a wealthy and knowledgeable leadership had been answered as well.
With an eighty-family building and a reasonably diverse population, the Chelsea stood poised to take its place, as John Noyes had recommended, “at the front of the general march of improvement.” But the question remained : how would it go about doing this ? What kind of work was to be accomplished here ?
The answer seems to lie in the Fourierist notion of art social -the importance assigned to the role of artists in unifying a diverse population and guiding it forward in its evolution. Hints of this intention lie not only in the provision of fifteen art studios occupying the Chelsea’s entire top floor, but also in the pronounced presence of nature themes in its décor-stained-glass transoms displaying images of seashells and flowers, etched-glass door panels featuring forest scenes, hand-carved wood fireplace mantels and hand-painted tiles, a lobby hung with paintings of the Hudson River school, and exquisite wrought-iron sunflowers adorning its exterior balconies and central stairway -the latter evoking a dream of the liberated American artist as vividly as Fourier’s Crown Imperial flower represented the downtrodden artist in “civilization.”
For more of Sherill's writings about the Chelsea Hotel read the "History of Activism" section of this blog.
Earlier this week a commenter asked how the works in the Capitol Fishing Tackle Show address the economy. Here's the only answer we've found so far. One of the proposed exhibits at the "Empty by Choice" show is titled “Tips for Future Occupants.”Of the storefront, that is.Well, we can give you two tips for the book. Ask the Bards and get a 50-year lease like El Quijote or they’ll boot you as soon as the economy recovers. Afterall, Capitol Fishing Tackle was in that space for over 50 years and survived many recessions. They didn't survive the legal manuevers of Marlene Krauss and David Elder. If you have any "Tips for Future Occupants" leave them in the comment box.
Oh, so now according to the Chelsea Hotel official website Nadia donated the painting to the Hotel. (Does this mean the Hotel is back to being a non-profit organization?) I see! So sorry for the misunderstanding! Heads up Elder, when you try to do spin control don't link to the offending truthful story.
Well, the worst has finally happened: though it had hung in one form or another for two years, tenant activist Arthur Nash’s BRING BACK THE BARDS banner was removed from the hotel’s façade at approximately 8:45 this morning. Kinda-sorta manager Arnold Tamasar did the honors in person, as a police officer and a security guard stood by. Obviously, this was not a police matter, but rather a matter for the city agencies and the courts. The cop’s explanation for allowing the sign’s removal was that only the owners of a buiding are allowed to hang signs on the façade of the building. This is open to debate, and in fact it was being discussed with various city agencies. The cop further stated that, since Arthur didn’t have a door to the balcony (like many residents, he climbs through his window), he was not allowed go onto the balcony at all. We believe that the police officer exceeded his authority in aiding the hotel management in their suppression of Nash’s first amendment rights. The timing of the hotel’s move against Nash, as well as the (former) location of the banner, are significant. On the weekend of June 18, the hotel, in conjunction with No Longer Empty, is planning an art show (featuring mostly outside artists) in the former Capitol Fishing Tackle storefront. Nash’s sign was positioned on the second floor almost directly above the storefront. Obviously it would be a huge embarrassment to the hotel management to have to explain what the sign meant to everyone attending the event. We believe this to be an illegal infringement on Nash’s first amendment rights. Plain and simple, this is intimidation and harassment meant to stifle all dissenting voices, and as such represents the end of free speech at the Chelsea—if indeed any pretense of it remained after the ouster of the Bards.
TALLY BROWN was a bohemian artist and underground star living in New York. She starred in some ANDY WARHOL films and was a student friend of LEONARD BERNSTEIN. Her interpretation of "Lady grinning soul" by DAVID BOWIE from his album ALLADIN SANE is taken from the soundtrack of the wonderful portrait documentary film TALLY BROWN NEW YORK by german director ROSA VON PRAUNHEIM. (Video via Hanko)
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 takeoverby Krauss and Elder, eager to cash in on the short term profits promised by the superheatedreal 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.
Chelsea Hotel manager David Elder is now accepting paintings in exchange for stays at the famed Chelsea Hotel. And here we thought those people lined up on the sidewalk were waiting to get into the comedy club. It's a return to the good old days. Nadia Bertrand told Chelsea Now that she recently turned over two paintings to David Elder in exchange for a month long stay. "We'll take it as it goes in terms of if other people are interested," Elder told Chelsea Now. This should give the occupancy rates around here a big boost. We hear that the poets will still have to pay. (Photo of Nadia and her painting by Patrick Hedlund.)