The Chelsea Hotel, New York 1976

The Chelsea

Excerpt from ‘Nabelichting’, Chapter 11, Moving

“…The room had folding doors leading to the balcony on the front side, doors through which you could see the cast iron, flower ornamented balustrade, in the same style as the grand staircase. I always kept those doors closed because of the traffic that raged on in two directions for 24 hours a day. The sound of the police cars with their screaming sirens, taxis, trucks, and cross town busses made you realize you could only be in one place in the world: New York City.

The lobby, filled with paintings and assemblages by different artists, made clear that the hotel lived up to its reputation to accommodate artists of all kind of disciplines. Near the small desk or in the elevator you would always see a few artistic, eccentric looking people talking to each other, usually about their exceptional, highly imaginative ideas and philosophies. Most of them were long term residents and had their rooms transformed into studios.

I felt at home quite quickly; the hotel reminded me of the past. The scent of oil paint and the sound of musical instruments made me think of my childhood.
An artistic couple that I became friends with lived in a large room on the top floor. They had drawn and written their ideas on large sheets of paper which they had hung all over the room like laundry.
A playwright, with whom I played chess now and then, had written dozens of plays that had been actually performed Off-Off-Broadway. All of them had received negative reviews, of which he kept an impressive scrapbook. He wasn’t very good at chess either…”


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