Artist and Developer of the Blue Moon Hotel, Randy Settenbrino, recently sat down for a short interview on his experiences in the founding of his Brainchild, the Blue Moon Hotel. The Blue Moon conveys the story of lives of merchants, assorted tenants’ multi-generational families along with young blood hoping to reunite with their immigrant ties of young brides and birth families. All a huge weave of many lives and cultures coming together in one place. Their story is ours woven together in an assortment of tapestries that even the mythological goddess Athena would envy.
Q: "You created a meritorious five-year award-winning project of outstanding recognition boasting 40-plus major articles and prestigious accolades via National Geographic Traveler, New York Magazine Critic's Pick, Citysearch’s Best Boutique Hotel, and Rizzoli’s Best 100 Little Hotels. A huge media triumph, but what have you achieved on a neighborhood and community level?"
A: "Blue Moon’s preservation enhances the historical ambiance, complementing the neighboring Tenement Museum and historical district alike. All are uplifted by our presence. Ideally the Blue Moon will be the exemplar, serving as encouragement to developers and city planners to build with integrity. How we pay community now indicates the future continuity. We housed a displaced congregation for 7.5 years, gratis, and are a study in recycling from construction to daily green operations. We have provided mentorship programs and provided for LES homeless."
Q: "What pleased you most about this famed project?"
A: "As artist and developer, I’m most excited to provide a means to encounter how art and history can collide into elegant design."
Q: "Five years of fretting over art, preservation and design details must have been an arduous journey. How have you managed to overcome the enormous task of taking on a personal public work project without donations or grants as well as many obstacles inherent to a single Family-owned hotel?"
A: "Otto Rank called art life’s dream interpretation; the creative part of transforming a tenement certainly fulfilled his sentiment. However, everything comes at a price, and it has not been easy, especially in COVID times. It has been near impossible to cover the considerable expenses from the last two years. We are in the process of creating other avenues of interest: on site bakery, wine bar, trattoria and have just opened a gift shop on our website for patrons who want to own a piece of the Blue Moon memorabilia, or an autographed print of my work. You can now shop on our website bluemoon-nyc.com. We have survived based on our story and the capacity of our patrons to relate and see merit in of our 5-year art preservation and design project. Our accolades and news articles help empower our brand but, ultimately it is your patronage that grants us the capacity to continue our museum like hotel and overcome the all the limitations of a small single property."
Q: "You claim the Blue Moon venerates our immigrant ancestors’ way of life and communes the essence of their time and place. How so?"
A: "The communion we are speaking of was more prevalent in the earlier generations because there was craftsmanship: Tailors, blacksmiths, carpenters, hat makers, dress makers, candle makers, bakers, masons etc. all were artisans. Their work was the pride of their hands. They had vision and had the inspiration to create. Their profession was a calling. There was communion in their contemplative productions; whatever you touched was crafted by someone else. You could sense the interconnectedness all around you. Objects required focus and concentration. They were made with precision, strength, beauty, longevity, and were passed from one generation to another. Everything had a use and if broken was refurbished. People respected themselves in the way they dressed and lived. They were solid and stoic and faced dangers and tragedies with great fortitude and resolve.
"There was greater spiritual communion with God and man. Family was sacred; husband, wife, elders, and neighbors were honored. There was more trust; everyone knew who they were and what was expected of them. When you see the Americana memorabilia on display or a Norman Rockwell you can feel the wholesomeness of the previous generations. There was a familiarity with shopkeepers, store managers, and bankers. It was not just the artist that was more sensitive but society in general."