Sunday, July 6, 2008

Roberto's house

Welcome to Art Vent's new Home and Garden section. I took these pictures last week at Roberto Juarez's home and studio in Canaan, NY, as he was getting ready to go with me to Home Depot (or, as we call it, "Home Despot") in Catskill, where I needed to return basement windows that were the wrong size, and he was shopping for a garden umbrella. We artists lead a glamorous life here in the country.

Roberto's house is special, though, because it's so Roberto--artful, yet hardly calculated or precious; he shares it with David, two cats, and various friends who add their own touches as they come and go. A sprawling cement block edifice set on four bucolic acres, it was built around 1979 as a day care facility that later turned into a medical center. Because it's so solidly built, the basement was, at one time, designated the emergency shelter for the neighborhood. His friend, architect Kimberly Ackert, was responsible for the renovation and making the industrial building livable.

Below is Roberto's studio as seen through the front window, with reflections of daylilies. He seems to live in a micro-climate where everything grows bigger and better, like the vegetables in Woody Allen's Sleeper. From my perch, not that far away but on the side of a mountain, it seems positively tropical.

Inside the studio. Note the artistic display of this week's Netflix:

The "brush room":

The office:

A corner of the kitchen:

Another corner of the kitchen:

You can't see it here, but one of the things Roberto and I found we have in common--after meeting while teaching at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown the summer before last and realizing that we'd been in the same place at the same time practically our entire lives--is that each of us has a pink ceiling over our kitchen.
The living area:
Roberto sees his house as a laboratory, a place for objects to look at and enjoy, and which may later be reflected in his paintings. The corduroy quilt, above, he found ten years ago in Miami when it was 100 degrees out, and kept until it found its rightful place.
Some things, however, are just passing through. Below, getting ready for the tag sale. Roberto's friend, Peter Kennard, laid the stone floor:
Master bedroom:

This quilt is from Ralph Lauren. How does Roberto get away with it?--in my house it would look totally tacky. More proof that context is everything.

The vegetable garden, made with branches from the surrounding woods, is the work of part-time resident Mark Tambella, who is an artist, production designer at La Mama, and generally gifted when it comes to food and cars:

David made the moss and rock garden near the stream:

So we had our shopping outing in Catskill. I returned my windows, but--arrgh!--Home Depot didn't have the replacement size and I had to order them, contenting myself with a few new dish towels, bought later in Hudson. Roberto, however, got not only his garden umbrella but scored this gazebo, on sale for $199. Again, it's all about context. Roberto is ecstatic, and waxes on about its Josef Hoffmann-esque lines. I can't go nearly that far, but nestled under the trees near the burbling stream, it's quite divine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, the Roberto House post is lovely and sweet. HG has no soul and Dwell is all screwed up with ads, so it's time for Art Vent to take the situation in hand and redefine the house report. Tastefulness now includes originality, eccentricity, and adventuresomeness. Money does not define taste in the new Art Vent House Report. To the future, MG