One of New York’s most iconic neighborhoods – famous for being a welcome place for everybody from Mark Twain to Patti Smith over the years – is as much an incubator for art as ever. Wide, tree-lined streets that hug the Hudson River harbor scores of tiny galleries here – eclectic counterparts to the institutions of uptown’s Museum Mile. Whether you’re visiting Chelsea wanting do a world-class art walk, or seeking some vittles, these picks from Kevin Rountree, the concierge at Kimpton Hotel Eventi, will show you the way.
A High Line Runs Through It
Nothing tops a sunny day stroll on the High Line. This elevated public park used to be a freight rail for transporting goods throughout the city, but by 1980, trucks had replaced trains. Now a dynamic walkway replete with lush plants – and the occasional spontaneous opera performance or jazz trio – you can even grab a nibble to go with your panoramic view of the Hudson – adding to the unexpected flavor and fun popsicles and empanadas are often on hand, literally.
Art and Soul
Start by heading a little south toward the art district, in what was once the “True Chelsea” neighborhood. From 27th Street and all the way to 21st between 10th and 11th Avenue, there is a high concentration of great galleries.
- Take for example the Gagosian Galleries on 21st and 24th Streets, where one of the biggest dealers in the business, Larry Gagosian might be featuring the steel hulks of Richard Serra or the pop-art worlds of Roy Lichtenstein.
- Over at David Zwirner, art is often an immersive experience: recently, the gallery has hosted Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s “Mirrored Room,” a reflective room filled with around one hundred flickering, multicolored LED lights, and the same artist’s “Obliteration Room,” where visitors were given a sheet of dot stickers and told to affix them anywhere in the “house,” a white room with furniture and appliances. Talk about a blank canvas.
- Finally there’s Pace, whose current exhibitions feature the diverse works of classic composition artist Robert Mangold and NY-based light artist Leo Villarreal, early May through mid-June.
The Crown Jewel
And then there’s the new Whitney Museum – its recent move from the Upper East Side to Chelsea won the neighborhood major art world points. Within the Renzo Piano-designed spaceship-like building are six floors of gallery space, a café and rooftop. You could make a whole day of it and still need to return: there are 22,000 works, spanning from Edward Hopper’s iconic A Woman in the Sun to Charles to Georgia O’Keeffe’s 1929 masterpiece Music, Pink and Blue No. 2. to Jeff Koons’s vacuum cleaners.
Originally a Nabisco factory, the Chelsea Market is today one of the most famous indoor food halls in the world, with more than thirty-five vendors selling everything from accessories to lobster rolls – you can even get a haircut here. Our favorites are coffee at Ninth Street Espresso, grilled cheeses at Creamline, Sarabeth’s Bakery for cupcakes and oysters at Cull & Pistol. Cull also makes a mean lobster roll, though so does competition The Lobster Place. More of our favorites are here.
Fresh from a multi-million-dollar renovation, Chelsea’s first luxury hotel, Kimpton Hotel Eventi, now has a sleek black steel façade, modernized lobby and three buzzed-about restaurants. Reflective of the neighborhood, art curated by the illustrious likes of Kwangho Lee, Ernesto Leal and Alex Katz, don the walls. The Eventi could be considered its own New York work of art.