Words by Linda Troeller
Linda Troeller’s vibrant color photographs, taken from 1994 in the Chelsea Hotel, convey the importance of people and place to the preservation of one of New York’s most iconic buildings and cultural communities. Linda’s photographs are on view by appointment at a Pop Up Exhibition to celebrate “Twenty Years – Chelsea Hotel Photographs” in a storefront gallery in the Chelsea Hotel. The mural sized photographs will be up through January 16, and can been seen by appointment. Contact Linda on facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her Chelsea Hotel photographs are in major collections from the University of Texas, Austin to a permanent ‘room’ at the Lloyd hotel, Amsterdam and in the lobby of the Toskana Therme, Bad Orb, Germany. Linda will move to a NYC new location and will remain an active member of the hotel’s community now and when it opens in 2015 under King and Grove Hotels.
Some of her memories include:
I met people such as Alexander McQueen who talked to me in the lobby, came to see my photographs and invited me to his fashion show. Such influences and the skylight over the famous staircase inspired me to make an image wearing a Zach Posen dress. Zac was absorbed by Bohemia, like myself. He hung out there as a teenager. I also made a number of self-portraits there that show a mental space, a kind of physical manifestation of the hotel itself mingling sadnesses with the rapture of new beginnings. Ethan Hawke came to shoot his “Chelsea Walls” film to use my room 319 for a scene; and after that I made his portrait.
A few years before a couple in from London celebrating their anniversary with him graduating from a course at Miss Vera’s School of Cross Dressing asked me to make their portrait. I continued making portraits with some of the creative inhabitants and found images that showed the aura of the building. When I first moved in the hotel the housekeepers vacuumed, dusted and made your bed for a reasonable fee. When my mother died, I was very depressed and Loretta, my maid, put the clothes on hangers and tried to cheer me up, offering a maternal hug that brought tears and release. In room 832 Herbert Hunke, the surrealist poet lived across the and hall peeked in, “You look like you’re a divorcée? It would be nice to have someone rich on this floor.” He got that impression since he saw me in a Channel suit I had left over from a European boyfriend. He knocked each week for the seven-dollar cab fare to the methadone clinic. He returned and read me poetry while spraying another layer of silver gloss on his phone. Sometimes he walked me the best diner in the ‘hood. Patti Smith came to give him a reading at Bard so things were looking up again, but he died shortly after.
With so much of New York City history vanishing, my photographs and the work of other artists from here, testify to the pivotal value of the proliferation of culture generated at this artist-oriented place. It was always the merging of the new artists and guests with the residents that formed the swirl of the imagination that has permeated far and wide the soul of this place.
To see her book “Chelsea Hotel Atmosphere: An Artist Memoir” go online http://www.blurb.com/books/783187
Linda Troeller, resident for twenty years of the Chelsea Hotel, is an award-winning photographer known for her sensual images in her Aperture book, Healing Waters, and Scalo book, Erotic Lives of Women, covered in the NY Times as “one of the gutsiest books of the decade.” Her photo-collage project, TB-AIDS DIARY, won the Ferguson Award, translated into twelve languages, is in the Library of Congress AIDS Collection, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and exhibited from Fotofest in “Testimonies” to Ryerson Image Arts Gallery, Toronto. Her book, “Chelsea Hotel Atmosphere: An Artist’s Memoir” was featured in the Village Voice, NY Times and she is published in Stern, Marie Claire, Stern among others. Her 70s vintage black and white photographs were recently collected by Marion Schneider and Klaus Bohm with a catalogue to be in every room of their new hotel, Toskana Therme, Bad Orb, Germany. A selection of her “Self-Portrayal” images were shown at Ververs Gallery, Amsterdam, 2013 in “Time-Lapse/Identity.” She has a MS and MFA from Syracuse University and BS in Journalism, West Virginia University. She was an assistant at the Ansel Adams Workshops in 1974 and has been a professor of photography and visiting lecturer at Yale, Parsons, SVA, and will teach “Self-Portraiture” this June at PetersValleyworkshops, www.lindatroeller.com. Her new photo book with interviews by Marion Schneider, “Intimacies,” will be out Fall 2014 by Daylight.