Friday, February 01, 2008

A Handmade Home

by Joyce Wadler

ANY fool can hire an architect to draw up a plan for a house, but it takes a truly inspired fool — which is to say, an artist — to start building and see where the earth and driftwood and shards of broken pottery take him, and an equally impassioned fool — say, a woman in love — to go along and carry the rocks on her back.

This is how it was with the little-known sculptural home that is Eliphante, three acres of fantastical domes, shacks and follies created over 28 years by Michael Kahn and his wife, Leda Livant. Here there is the residence, which has 25-foot ceilings and incorporates rocks and scraps from construction sites; there, a studio, one wall of which is the Ford pickup that brought the couple west; and a labyrinthine art gallery called Pipedreams, in which every painting has its own environment.

All photos by David Kadlubowski

The building that gave the compound its name has a long, trunklike entrance made of rock and an irregularly mounded roof. “Aaah, Ella-fahn-tay,” a friend joked soon after it was built, giving it a playful faux-French pronunciation.

The couple began building when they first arrived here, although they did not own the property, and they continued to do so until the progressive brain disease, which killed Mr. Kahn this December at age 71, robbed him of the ability to speak.

Read the entire story in the New York Times.

1 comment:

Marsha said...

I find this sort of thing fascinating. Totally unique. I bet it would be fun to sleep one night there.