patti smith, debbie harry, and robert mapplethorpe check back into the chelsea hotel
The Chelsea Hotel is revisiting its iconic past with a photo series of famous residents and inspiring a creative future through a new exhibition series.
Leonard Cohen sang about it, Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road in one of its bedrooms, and Madonna had some great Sex in a few of them: the Chelsea Hotel is undoubtedly one of New York's single most important creative landmarks. Although it's undergone some changes since its mid-century hey day (let's just say you can't trade a painting for rent anymore), the Chelsea is drawing on its own iconic past to inspire the next generation, starting with a new exhibition series, Cowboy Mouth: Young Artists at The Chelsea.
Back in 71, Patti Smith and playwright Sam Shepard camped out in Smith's room and penned Cowboy Mouth, a semi-autobiographical play about two young artists tormented by the undying urge to create. This month, the Chelsea is resurrecting the collaborative work in what's slated to be an annually recurring series spotlighting young artists. In addition to the play's restaging, Young Artists at The Chelsea also features musical performances from this generation's burgeoning talent including Beau and Rush Midnight.
But Smith's play isn't the series' only blast from the past: the Chelsea is also exhibiting photos of some of its most iconic residents including Debbie Harry, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Johnny Winter. Shot by South African-born photographer Norman Seeff after he arrived in NYC back in 65, the images are a trip back to a time of pay phones, Greyhound buses, and scary subways.
Cowboy Mouth: Young Artists at the Chelsea runs from June 10-20, more information here.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Norman Seeff