Check in at the Chelsea Hotel

By

Published April 8, 2009

Check the Chelsea Hotel’s 125-year-old ledger: The signatures therein constitue a constellation of singular talents.  There’s Jasper Johns, Patti Smith, Willem de Kooning, the Beats’ marquee members (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs), Stanley Kubrick, Bob Dylan, Frida Kahlo and her main hombre, Diego Rivera, and, of course, Warhol Superstars like Edie Sedgwick and Paul America. In more infamous matters, the 23rd Street institution houses the Welsh lush Dylan Thomas’ deathbed (1953) as well as Nancy Spungen’s (of Sid Vicious legend) unsolved chalk outline (1978). (LEFT: GERARD MALANGA IN CHELSEA GIRLS)

Nowadays, the once-implacable flow of legends (and, more importantly, lodgers) has ebbed. With the contentious ouster of long-time manager Stanley Bard two years ago, the future of the iconic establishment is more precarious than ever before. In response, the Anthology Film Archives has programmed a four-day series to stress the institution’s artistic, historic, and architectonic presence as a long-standing bastion for unbarred creativity. Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy (1986) and Warhol’s monumental double-screen ode Chelsea Girls (1966) are obvious picks, but there’s also some ultra-rare fare, namely cinemagician Harry Smith’s recently rediscovered experiment Film #23 (c. 1980s) and Michael Auder’s Video Visit: Harry Smith Room #705, Chelsea Hotel 1971, which tracks Auder as he spends time with his inimitable neighbor. Verité love letters from past residents, like Jonas Mekas, Shirley Clarke, and the late sculptor Doris Chase, round out what should be an awe-inspiring Easter weekend. Long live the Chelsea!

Chelsea Hotel programming begins tomorrow, April 9.