In a Reimagined Victorian Schoolhouse, an Artist Finds His Third Act


Dan McCarthy became a resident of a stately Victorian school building at the foot of the Catskill Mountains. He noticed that human-like buildings lead multiple lives. In 2014, at the age of 52, when he called it “the end of Act II,” the artist cleared up a nearly 30-year-old apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and began a new life a few hours north of Manhattan. .. The three-story Romanesque stone building offers panoramic views of the impressive Dutch Gable and Hudson Valley. This move was overwhelming, but I was immediately relieved. Ceramics shocked McCarthy’s career welcoming — two months before he left the city, his then-galler Anton Khan showed off his series of expressive clay vessels Facepots. But his rough-rendered oil painting sales weren’t theirs in the 1990s; what he was most crazy about was escaping the market-driven art scene in New York.

“I wasn’t a hot and young person anymore,” says McCarthy in the early afternoon of December. He puts a plate of Humboldt fog cheese in the open kitchen and believes in the fact that its rustic warmth was once a classroom. In the adjoining dining area, a transparent denim curtain with streaks of light and a grid pattern of bleach from a mustard dispenser. Goodwill He saw it at a temple in Los Angeles where a Japanese-American mother took him and his two sisters as children. In the spacious living room nearby, rock carvings by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone and a daybed made of marine-grade fir plywood, inspired by Donald Judd, add to the meditative mood of the space. increase. “I moved to New York to become famous,” he says. “But at some point, I realized that the biggest thing was freedom …. disconnecting from the city was disconnecting from the person I was there.” (Needless to say, his One of the only reminiscents of New York at home, a framed strip of self-portraits of Andy Warhol’s photo booth, torn from an auction catalog, is in the basement along with his two kilns.)

If McCarthy was ready for Act III when he arrived in the north, so would probably his home. Built in 1899 as a gift to the community by wealthy New Yorker Rizander Lawrence, who spent the summer with his wife at the nearby Catskill Mountain House, the elementary school opened in 1901 and continued to operate until 1977. I did. He says the property was “really accessible” shortly after McCarthy moved in, but before he set about planting trees in the front yard. A stranger wanted to know what happened to his previous classroom, so he appeared asking for a tour without notice.

The approximately 9,200-square-foot mansion was symmetric and harsh, as if Wes Anderson had reinterpreted the Overlook Hotel, but by the time it was acquired by jewelry designer Stephen Kretschmer in the 1990s, it showed signs of neglect. I did. Kretschmer replaced arched windows and rotating portholes. Many of them were destroyed by the destroyers. Installed a new red oak floor. We have restored a blackboard that wraps around the dining room and puts punctuation marks in the living room on the second floor. He also preserved a heavy wooden door leading from these common areas to the large hall, which is the echoing center of the house. The ceiling of the cathedral was dyed a dark reddish brown that stretched to a height of 26 feet beyond the original cornice.

So, above the network of tables and crates, McCarthy displays what he calls his “biggest hit.” Painted in bright yellow, topped with decorative birds and small anthropomorphic bowls, standing on four small legs, roped, pinched and wrinkled potted, glossy It was hung and then gooped. What they all have in common is a mysterious smile. McCarthy was the first student to explore at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in the 1980s, launching a “funny-faced Picassoid slab pot.” He revisited in the summer of 2012 when he began pottery again at the University of California, Davis. “I should turn to them or something,” he recalls his thoughts at the time. “I tried to resist the urge, but as soon as I did it, I knew it was what I wanted to do.”

After Kretschmer died in a motorcycle accident in 2006, his daughter Claudia inherited the place and later sold it to McCarthy. He was staying with his friends when he noticed a real estate sign in front of the school building. He says it looked like “strange premonition and magic.” In a sense, it provided the artist with everything New York couldn’t do anymore: quiet, reinventing opportunities and the shock of adventure. “At first, I consciously tried not to take a shower for weeks,” he said, citing Huckleberry as an inspiration. “I wanted to be completely wild.” At one point he invited the “spiritual man” he said to him. He did all this for you. And now it’s your turn. She said I didn’t really own this house, I was there for a while. “

While he is here, McCarthy is determined to own the place. Much of the building’s restoration was fairly complete before he moved, but his influence is still felt with a subtle personal touch: the windowsill, his girlfriend, the Paleolithic made by the potter. Paula Greif, a former art director of a set of rough-cut candlesticks that resembles a pair of bonbons. On a rubber dining table with saw legs assembled by McCarthy from a sturdy door is a basic ship thrown on wheels by his hero, American ceramist Robert Turner. Almost all of McCarthy’s homes used to belong to someone else — or completely to others — That is the point. From the gorgeous mosaic jars made by New York-based artist Joan Bankemper out of broken bowls to the mismatched chairs picked up at Hudson sidewalk stores and antique shops, everything is expected to be updated. I’m surrounding his dining table right now.

McCarthy paints on the ground floor. (He’s a one-story building, sleeping on the second floor, but has a small monastery bedroom next to the studio in case he works late into the night.) In a sense, his workshop is idyllic. Serves as a monument to him kissed by the sun. The first act, a souvenir he has preserved. The stuffed fish he found online decorate the space, reminiscent of working on a fishing boat when he was a teenager in the late 70’s. Acrylic paintings on the half-moon canvas resemble a psychedelic rainbow in an east-facing room where the morning light washes his art with a rosy glow. Many of them are simple phrases that remind us of his youthful people and places. (Band), “Starwood” (rock venue), “Infinity Surfboard” (shop). “These were the pictures I made when I first moved here,” he says. “Maybe that was the way back to a time when I felt comfortable and safe.” On the opposite wall is the 18 latest paintings he has completed over the last two years. On those canvases, people dance naked, their arms spread out with an ecstasy fit, and they are unaware of the rainbow flowing directly on their heads.

Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs leading to the whitewashed basement, he pauses in front of a huge face-spot display that is 18 to 22 inches high. Dope, surprised, malicious, ironic, optimistic, joyful, and totally confused. They feel, he says, but we want them to feel, or maybe how we feel ourselves. “Moods vary from pot to pot,” he says of the boiler bark. “They go out into the world and happen to people in different ways. It’s us who make them ours and fill them in the senses. After all, they’re just ships.” Of course, I The same is true for the rooms that surround us.


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