The artist Michael Kahn spent 30 years of his life creating, while painting and residing at, the three acres known as Eliphante. The buildings and structures at Eliphante, while expressions of creativity and artistry, were also Michael’s solutions to the practical needs for work space, studio’s [sic], shelter and housing for himself and his wife Leda. Michael lived there until his death in 2007. Leda remained there until 2009, and now lives in Cottonwood AZ. (from http://www.eliphante.org/)
This post is Part 2 of the story of the afternoon I spent at Eliphante.
As I walked the grounds of Eliphante, an old delivery truck that had been turned into a storage shed caught my attention.
One can walk out of the driver’s side of the truck and enter another storage area with a roof over it.
At Eliphante, even the containers holding fasteners looked like art to me.
As I was taking photos in this storage area, I ran into the other guy I’d met at NeoTribal The Gathering. He looked to me like a young Timothy Olyphant (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0648249/) and made my heart beat faster. Although he seemed glad to see me, we only spoke briefly before he drifted off to do other things. Ah well, he was too young for me anyway.
In many buildings on the grounds, bits of colored glass and whole glass bottles were used to allow light into rooms, but still afford privacy. Here are some examples of such use of glass:
The above photos show an inside and outside view of colored glass and bottles used as tiny windows that allow light into the room. I think the wall is made of cob or some other type of dried mud and straw construction material.
Pipedreams, “the labyrinthine art gallery” ( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/garden/31elephante.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) was amazing. It is composed of several rooms leading into another, each room filled with color and art.
Mosaics of glass, tile, stone, and mirrors covered some of the interior walls of Pipedreams .
In some places light passed through colored glass set in the ceiling or walls, adding moving bits of color to the floor or opposite walls.
I sat on the floor a long time and watched the infinitesimal changes in the patterns of colored light. The light shimmered and moved, and the entire vibe was incredibly psychedelic. As I moved through the space, I wondered how much LSD (or other hallucinogens) Michael Kahn had taken in his lifetime, or if he were just one of those people who naturally experiences life as one continual psychedelic trip.
The main room of Pipedreams reminded me of a chapel somehow. It was filled with wood (driftwood? branches?) that curved and flowed. I imagined ceremonies being held here.
There were art installations in many places on the grounds of Eliphante. Some were functional (like the glass bottles imbedded in walls and the very buildings themselves), but many pieces were art for art’s sake. One of my favorites was this assemblage of wood, stones, and mirrors.
I particularly like the shape of this creation and the juxtaposition of the natural and human-made elements.
The last major building on the property was the one that gave the whole place its name. According to http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/garden/31elephante.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0, this building is called Eliphante because of its “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.”
Unfortunately, Eliphante was closed for restoration during my visit, and I couldn’t venture inside.
I was able to take some photos of the exterior of Eliphante.
The two photos above are views of some of Eliphante’s “stained glass.”
This is probably my favorite installation at Eliphante. I like that it’s functional and can actually help a person get where she wants to go. I also like that it’s making use of old, rusted saws that look cool but aren’t being used for their original purpose. I’m impressed by the person who looked at a bunch of rusty saws and had the idea to turn them into signs.
I exited Eliphante through this passageway to the trail to the parking area.
Eliphante is my kind of place. I really dig so many of the aspects that make it magical: bright colors, collages and mosaics, assemblages, functional art, art not just as a lifestyle but as a way of life. I love the way art is integrated in nearly every aspect of life at Eliphante. I feel really blessed to have found this place (and the kind people who care for and maintain it) and to have been able to spend an afternoon exploring it. Of course, I am now a life member of the Eliphante community, and I plan to visit again.
I took all the photos included in this post.