April 9th- 11th: Patty Murdoch

The best way to eat foie gras that has been smuggled over the Canadian border: alone, standing in the kitchen, when you are very hungry.

March 14- 22: Kylie Anderson


I met Kylie in Colorado one year ago.  She came to New York to complete one half of a drawing project.

The other half of the drawing project will take place in several small towns in Wyoming, like Big Piney, where this image of a legal wolf hunt was taken.  Most of the towns Kylie will visit in Wyoming have populations of less than 200 people.
While I was researching the Wyoming towns that Kylie will visit, I became fascinated with these images of abandonded villages.  This photo of a sand-swept house is in Namibia.  When I came across this image online I did a double take.  
This is one of the images I've had in my flat files for almost 10 years.  The image has survived 7 studio moves, never being thrown out, although close at times. I've never known anything about it's origins, digital or hard copy. It's so similar to the one I found online, I'm sure it has to be the same town and the same house. 

March 6-9: Jenal Dolson


Jenal Dolson's visit proved that we animals are creatures of habit.  
We go after what we want over and over again.
Jenal learned how to make felted rocks during her stay at the den, while we exchanged stories about bats and snakes.

February 11- 25th: Will Hutchinson

Will Hutchinson came to the Den from Missoula, Montana, where he is a fire fighter and an artist.



Will didn't fight against the infamous Black Forest Fire of 2013, which originated near Colorado Springs, but he did fight in the High Park fire of 2012 in Colorado. He showed me some of the photos he takes when he is in the field fighting fires.  Strangely, since he takes them while he is working, he cannot legally circulate these images since they are technically property of the government.

 I was in Colorado Springs a month before the Black Forest fire started last year.  At the time, I was making collages using screenshots from the original Bambi animation, which has a famous forest fire scene:


Humans, although never seen in the film, are the sole source of evil in the Disney view of nature.  It is believed that the Black Forest Fire of 2013 did not start from natural causes.  Investigators said the possibility of arson was small because they found no gasoline, matches or other accelerant usually found in arson fires.  Though the cause of the fire remains unclear, it appears more likely to be started accidentally by a person.

 
Some of Will's drawings are inspired by the forms these fire clouds make.



Will fixed various things around the house, including a staircase and some molding.



January 1- 31st: Femke Van Heugten

video
Sweet 16, Femke Van Heugten
I love this video that Femke shot at Jane's Carousel of a Sweet 16 party.




January 1- 31st: Femke Van Heugten




Femke, a photographer from Holland, returned to the Den after a year, still searching for the long lost love of Joe (above), a woman named Bertha who lived on Coney Island.  


A few days ago, after peeling back layers of information in public records and doing fieldwork in the streets of Brooklyn, Femke found evidence that Bertha is not listed as dead. Femke scoured Coney Island for Bertha, never knowing what she looked like.  The search continues...


Femke taught Rue (my daughter) how to use a polariod camera.  Here she is arranging objects on the table for the photo.

November 1- 23rd: Agnes Fecher

Agnes Fecher, a photographer from Hungary, took these photos of a recent piece by Italian artist Mimmo Rubino, aka Rub Kandy.  The truck sits on privately owned land in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

Ten years, ago, Agnes Fecher was a Hugarian exchange student who got placed for a year with a family in Albequerque, New Mexico. 

There, she met Wes, her first love. 
 After ten years of emails but no meeting, they reunited at The Den. 

October 10th -13th: Bill Shemie


This original fringe leather jacket, purchased in South Dakota, was exchanged by a previous den guest.  Bill decided to wear it to the wedding he was in town for.
It's very similar to the one worn by Del Gue (left), a character in the 1972 western film Jeremiah Johnson.


We first meet Gue's character, a mountain man in severe disfavor with several local Indian tribes, in the desert, where he has been buried up to his head in sand.  Johnson helps him out, and from then on, Gue is seen wearing the coat.
Bear Claw, left, who resides in a log cabin that he built, teaches Johnson everything he knows about trapping animals and living in the mountains.  At the end of the movie, Jeremiah Johnson begins building a log cabin to live in.
In exchange for his stay at the Den, Bill helped me build a miniature log cabin made out of wood from the silver maple tree under which the Den stands.  

September 25- 30: Blue, Ryan and Mosey

In 1992, when Ryan was 13, he traveled through Pakistan with his brother.  Along the way, they acquired ethnic talismans including king cobra snake skins.  One of these skins was traded for 5 nights in The Den.

The King Cobra, the longest venemous snake in the world, preys chiefly on other snakes.The skin of the King Cobra is said to hold many magical powers, including the power to control the dreams of whoever possesses the skin.
I've known Blue & Ryan for 18 years.  They returned to Wolfcloud, this time with infant Mosey, exactly 3 years after this photo was taken. 
This is Blue on Lake Mead just before she married Ryan.  Since they brought the snake skin, my dreams have been more vivid.  It is said that if one dreams of snakes, one must never try to kill the dream snake.  If one dreams of "a lake that is clear and surrounded by barrenness", one must never swim in the lake.


September 16th-23rd: Jane Carver


While Jane Carver continued her stay at the Den, I went upstate to Olana (above), the family home of the Hudson River School painter Frederick Church.  There, on the top floor of this house, I saw this painting: 
Frederic Edwin Church, The Van Vechten House, Catskill, 1847, oil on canvas, 22 1/8 x 30 ¼ in., OL.1980.37, Collection Olana State Historic Site, NYSOPRHP

In reality the painting is much darker- so dark that you can barely see the house, and the reflections on the windows upstairs are luminous and haunting.  


The painting depicts the Van Vechten House in Catskill NY, which was built in 1690, and is one of the earliest surviving examples of pre-revolutionary Dutch houses in the Hudson Valley. 

 Back at The Den, Jane continued working on a musical that draws from The Odyssey, referencing chickens as a living incarnation of the dreaded Sirens. The parameters of the Den Transaction allowed her to fully consider the relationship between host and guest, a vital subject in the Homeric world. 

Rumor has it that the artist Kiki Smith bought and now lives in the Van Vechten House.  The above image is from a compilation of drawings called "Her Home".


September 4th- 8th: Keiko Kuramoto & Ray McCLure (& Kiki!)

Keiko, Ray and Kiki were in town for our mutual friend Maria Berrio's opening and wedding.
They told us stories about living in the Tenderloin in San Francisco while we ate a simple and amazingly delicious Japanese curry that Keiko made.

July 31- August 29th: Mathieu Bonardet & Michaël


I rarely post before and after photos but this time I couldn't resist. For a one month stay at the Den, Mathieu and Michaël painstakingly restored and repainted the main staircase (which was in terrible shape) in the house.  



Mathieu is an artist and Michaël teaches German.  They live in Paris.  
Every day, after eating a few donuts from Dough, they would head out on a 10-12 mile walk around the city.  Mathieu archived their walks almost obsessively.

Mathieu's work often involves actively drawing straight onto a wall.



July 22- 29th: Jane Carver

Jane Carver heard once that chickens are sirens.  To that end, she played a simple tune, recorded it on a tape deck each time, and sang over each recorded tune until it began to sound eerie, whiny, and like it was underwater.  Like a siren. 

July 15th: Dez Stone Menendez and Emmett Smith




 
Dez & Emmett rolled into town for a night.  They exchanged an all inclusive weekend in the Thousand Islands region, which I redeemed 2 weeks ago.

There are 1,800 islands in the Thousand Islands.  On a tiny island called Comfort, The Clark mansion still stands.  Built in 1882, it is now in disrepair. 
An uninhabited bedroom on the second floor of the mansion.
The mansion was the summer home of Alson Skinner Clark (b. 1876), a painter known for helping to bring the French- Impressionist style to the US.  His crumbling frescoes still adorn the walls.
In one corner of the house, faded polaroid portraits were tacked to the wall.

On we went, circling Boldt Castle which was built in 1900 by a millionaire named George C. Boldt.