Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Village


New York was still new, fresh, young even, in my eyes. Even the air seemed fresh. That was then, a different time, just arrived with art and lust in my eyes. Now I know better. This mad house has been home for 10 years, almost to the day, and everyone of them a new disease. All the inmates sick with creation.

The Village Hotel had been around since this place actually was a village. Some 90 years ago it was celebrated as the newest art deco place for the elite to hang their hats after an evening sitting in a palatial even more ornate theatre watching the latest outing of Sarah Bernhardt under the jewelled light of the theatres' grand chandelier. The Village and it's gaslit streets long gone, now as anonymous as any city blocks on this anthill. If you look hard enough you can see what it was, a lot of the buildings still there, but with fluorescent lit commercial signs tacked to their facades. The hotel being no exception. Even The curlycewed iron railings that festoon every floor, and the front entrance somehow seem invisible.

The sun tried to break through my studio window on the 11th floor of the Village Hotel. Decades of grime filtered it's rays allowing my waking to almost be a gentle experience. Sitting on the edge of my bed, squinted a stolen look at last nights' work, the canvas nailed on the far wall . Ya, so far well enough. Patti Smith's Horses CD box still sitting on the player. My studio was one of many full time residence rooms in the hotel. The others also occupied by artists of various veins, and some major eccentrics. I was fortunate as the studio I occupy now is quite large, use to be 2 suites, and was once occupied by a rather dubious local artist whose reputation as a bon vivant far exceeded his work. There is an essence in the many layers of peeling paint and wallpaper that endear me to this space. It makes me feel as though it is actually more a place to work than to hang my hat. Which is why I work and sleep here and little else. The ceiling shows signs of its' past elegance with ornate plaster mouldings where there use to hang light fixtures of that art deco period, now the owner in his typical fashion has installed fixtures from the local hardware. At some point in time this building was raped of all its' fixtures and knick knacks, all either not replaced or done as cheaply as possible. The walls and ceilings were all repainted, quite often over top of the old wallpaper. The windows, all original and very drafty. Hardwood floors, maple I think, stained with black streaks of age. I can imagine the door as once upon a time being wood with panels, but like anything else of value it's been stripped away and replaced by a flophouse flat steel door, and peep hole to discriminate and judge those who wish to enter. Makes me wonder sometimes how much dough was made by our illustrious owner in selling off everything from then. But then if this abodes' illustrious past had been maintained could it have become home to all the rogues who live here now? Probably not. The hallways as much as they have become as benignly anonymous as the rest of the new decor, it is oddly a place of community. The residents are wont to give impromptu exhibits of their works in its' narrow dimly lit environs. Often these little showings become like any gallery opening with booze and lotsa chat, and readings by many of the more literary inclined. Many writers and poets have lived here, some famous, but like most of us here we toil in relative obscurity. About fame, ya, we have had rock stars, poets , novelist, and the odd fashionistas amongst us. They too like the decor remain anonymous as they prefer to be. They can walk the halls, or hang out in the lobby, with no fear of being hounded, kind of sinking into the wallpaper with the rest of us.

...more to come

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