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Listening to the Voices of the Chelsea Hotel

by Jillian Steinhauer on April 13, 2012

Chelsea Hotel

The exterior of the Chelsea Hotel, with signs calling for the return of Stanley Bard (via flickr.com/RecoilRick)

Everyone hopes that the missing art from the Chelsea Hotel will reappear after the current renovation. But even if it does, there’s no question that the passing of the hotel’s ownership from beloved landlord Stanley Bard to mega-developer Joseph Chetrit marks the end of an era in the city’s creative community.

To celebrate that era, and the Chelsea Hotel tenants who lived through it, Brooklyn artists Andrew Goldberg, Radek Konopka, Sophie Remolde and Erik Zambrano have created “This Is My Home: Voices from the Chelsea Hotel,” an audio-accompanied, one-day-only walking tour on April 29.

The soundtrack for the tour will consist of interviews with and stories and poems by long-time artist residents of the hotel, including an original score composed by tenant Gerald Busby.

“It’s just an extraordinary building with such an extraordinary past,” Goldberg told Hyperallergic. “This one knew Kerouac, this one knew Andy Warhol. We talked to a guy who stepped over Dee Dee Ramone because he was always passed outside his door. Salvador Dalí would come and get tattooed by this woman. One you start listening, you’re just rapt by the stories of what has happened in that building. It boggles the mind.”

Walkers will receive an audio file by email in advance of the walk and, when they arrive in Chelsea, a map of the route. The tour — which costs a suggested $20, with all proceeds benefiting the Chelsea Hotel Tenants Association — ends next to the hotel, at El Quijote restaurant, where visitors will be able to meet and talk with many of the residents interviewed for the project.

Sadly, El Quijote is the closest walkers will get to the Chelsea itself, since the hotel is closed for renovations — the first mark of the Chetrit Group’s new management, and a sign that change is on the way. “This Is My Home” offers participants a chance to get a taste of the old Chelsea, before it’s gone.

For more information on “This Is My Home: Voices from the Chelsea Hotel” follow their tumblelog, chelseahotelproject.tumblr.com.

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