5 Things: In Residence; A Retrospective

Ace Artist in Residence (AIR) was first launched in 2014 at Ace Hotel New York (shouts to former Ace-er, Ben Sisto). More than 350 artists stayed over and turned their rooms into studios, creating work of all stripes. Charcoal drawings, a dissertation on a bedsheet, original tracks composed by musician friends, gabber mix CDs — we saw boundless creativity manifest within our walls. The program was a living, breathing embodiment of our affinity for artists, whose ever-curious spirit, rebuke of complacency and ability to turn the intangible tangible brings life to the places we call home.

Nearly ten cosmic laps after it began, A!R returns to New York and begins in Brooklyn, Kyoto, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Palm Springs, Sydney and Toronto. We’ve partnered with local collectives and organizations who agree art is the future in form to co-curate a lineup of four artists per property. Over the year to come, we’ll give them time and space to create, then to exhibit or showcase their work in celebration with community. You can read more about the program and our exceptional curatorial partners here.

As we turn our eyes to the incandescent sun of what’s to come, we’re remembering how it started. In its past life, A!R hosted over 350 artists. Among them, Antonia Kuo, Colby Bird, Jamilla Okubo, Kenzo Minami, William Powhida, Rashaad Newsome, Cali Thornhill DeWitt, and Kandis Williams; musicians JD Samson, Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner and Brian Chase, Youth Lagoon’s Trevor Powers, Gang Gang Dance’s Lizzi Bougatsos; designer Christian Joy, and many more artists across all disciplines. We also worked with dream curatorial partners like Museum of Art & Design, n+1, Oyster Books, Tomorrow Lab, Tumblr and Printed Matter (with whom we did a global A!R tour across multiple cities with 40 artists over 40 nights — it was a fun one).

We invited writers to reside with us, too. Through the former Ace Hotel New York micro-residency Dear Reader (a distinct residency from Ace AIR), curated initially by acclaimed literary talent Alexander Chee (2015/2016) followed by beloved Portland-based publisher Tin House (2017/2018), authors whose books stay dog-eared on our bedside tables spent the night. They penned letters that were placed in rooms as a limited-edition, analog gift for our guests. Lauded wordsmiths like Ocean Vuong, Jia Tolentino, Sigrid Nunez, Elif Batuman, Tyehimba Jess, Tayari Jones, Morgan Jerkins, Michael Arceneaux, Fatimah Asghar and more slept over, crafting original works during their stays. To this day, these works still exist only for the eyes of those few fortunate recipients.

Below, we take a look back on five of the creators in residence who shared a bit of their brilliance with us.

Peruse a selection of archives here.

Alexis Parker (Hot Chip)

Alexis Parker Hot Chip

Alexis Taylor is a British musician. He is the lead vocalist and keyboardist/guitarist of the band Hot Chip and a solo artist in his own right. During his stay at Ace Hotel New York in September 2017 (curated by Printed Matter), Alexis recorded a lo-fi pop track titled “Melting Ace Crackle.” Take a listen (MP3) to his song. The recording features keyboards and loops of “crackle” that serve as the backdrop to Alexis’ contemplative lyrics:

I was trying to say / What I could never say / When I was melting away / As you played / People make such joyous music / People’s voices are so full of peeling laughter

The track was eventually refined and officially released as the track “Melting Away,” which you can also listen to here.

Original blog post here.

Leanne Shapton

McSweeney’s curated in April of 2016 and were asked for five artists but came back with a sixth: Leanne Shapton — so they kind of had us right where they wanted us. Leanne is an author, artist and publisher based in New York City. She is currently the art editor at The New York Review of Books. She is the co-founder, with photographer Jason Fulford, of J&L Books, an internationally-distributed not-for-profit imprint specializing in art and photography books. Shapton is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Leanne came by with her young one, Tomi, and together they made colorful prints by dipping pickles and cheese from our room service menu in paint:

Original blog post here.

James Hannaham

James Hannaham is a visual artist and author who came equipped with lots to say, and a vinyl plotter. He has most recently published Didn’t Nobody give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta which appears on numerous 2022 year-end lists, Delicious Foods, which was a New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book for 2015, and God Says No, which was a Stonewall Honor Book and a Lambda Book Award finalist. His written journalism and criticism has appeared in The Village Voice, Spin, Us, Out, Details, The New York Times Magazine, T Magazine, Slate, and Salon He’s also a founding member of theatrical group Elevator Repair Service and has exhibited text-based art at The James Cohan Gallery, 490 Atlantic Gallery, Kimberley-Klark, Rosalux Gallery, and The Center for Emerging Visual Artists among others.

James Hannaham

During his one-night stay in New York in April of 2016 (also curated by McSweeny’s), Hannaham wrapped an entire room with a text installation — on windows, around corners and inside shelves. An excerpt from the text reads:

“…for all our separateness, stranger, you and I will share intimate parts of our lives while making the only statement capable of outlasting a civilization: I too was here; I lived.”

Original blog post here.

Kandis Williams

Kandis Williams produces large-scale black-and-white collages that track a deeply personal on-going exploration of the philosophical constructs of difference as it manifests in structural racism, nationalism, authority and governance, eroticism and violence. Using the mechanics of collage as a deliberate metaphor for violence, Williams makes repetitive and idiosyncratic forms, fitted from content around specific incidents of sociological chaos. Her works are often set against monochromatic gradients, suggestive of deep space and the occurrence of these incidents over time, compounding a horror and fascination with both physical and ideological difference. Williams implicates both herself and the audience in the intoxication of commodity-fetishism, dramatizing the mind’s struggle for truth in moral judgment.

During a night’s stay at Ace Hotel DTLA in July 2016 (curated by Printed Matter for their 40th anniversary), Kandis Williams created a black-and-white reader titled “Culture of Fuccboi.” The final PDF consists of notebook and book scans, plus photos of drawings on bedsheets.

Original blog entry here.


DarkMatter was a trans South Asian artist collaboration composed of Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian. The duo produced and performed art of immeasurable depth and power, poetry which reflects their individual and shared struggles and makes incisive observations about the world today. In 2017, they announced they were bringing DarkMatter to a close as a collaboration in order to focus on their solo art practices.


ALOK (they/them) has gone on to become an internationally acclaimed author, poet, comedian and public speaker. As a mixed-media artist, their work explores themes of trauma, belonging and the human condition. They are the author of “Femme in Public” (2017), “Beyond the Gender Binary” (2020), and “Your Wound/My Garden” (2021) and the creator of #DeGenderFashion: an initiative to degender fashion and beauty industries.

The other half of the duo, Janani Balasubramanian is an artist and researcher creating accessible, inviting, and beautiful portals to natural and computational worlds. They collaborate with scientists and students to create immersive and multimedia artworks that animate and expand emerging scientific thought. They also conduct collaborative research at the intersections of art, physics, equity, pedagogy, and storytelling. Their work has been supported by the likes of the MacArthur Foundation, Sundance Institute, National Endowment for the Arts and presented at over 160 venues internationally, including the New York High Line, San Francisco Exploratorium, Academy of Natural Sciences, Andy Warhol Museum, and Metropolitan Museum of Art among others.

After staying with us and participating in our Dear Reader writer’s residency series, they let us ask them some questions (an excerpt is below):

How does your work as artists impact and engage with your work as grassroots organizers for issues of racial and economic justice?

We have always had difficulty with the way that our society renders “art” and “activism” as distinct buckets. Art and activism have always been one and the same for us. It is profoundly political to write, to feel, to articulate in a world that is so determined to censor/silence us. We recognize that the only way we have the ability to say the things we do as the artists we are is because of a long tradition of activism and struggle. We are always thinking about better ways to use our art and the platform around it to link to grassroots struggles on the ground.

Full interview is here.

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