Eliphante Part 2

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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.

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Old delivery truck turned into a storage shed. Notice the signature Michael Kahn bright color paint job on the truck’s side and hood.

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I like the way it looks as if the truck may be turning to stone…or maybe the stones are turning into a truck.

One can walk out of the driver’s side of the truck and enter another storage area with a roof over it.

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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:

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As sunlight shines through the glass, colors play upon the opposite wall.

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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.

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Corner wall made from cob (or similar building material) and glass bottles.

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Unfortunately, the solar bath house was not open for bathing.

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 .

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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.

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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.

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This keyboard was tucked in an alcove in Pipedreams. Notice the Michael Kahn signature cacophony of colors on the wall all around it. (How could anyone NOT notice those colors?)

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.

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The main room in what felt like the center of Pipedreams. The other rooms flowed in and out of this one.

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This photo shows an alcove in Pipedreams which houses a large piece of art. Notice the vaginal qualities of the portal.

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.

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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.

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Well, yes, I can see how this building could look like an elephant (especially if viewed through a psychedelic lens).

I was able to take some photos of the exterior of Eliphante.

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The two photos above are views of some of Eliphante’s “stained glass.”

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Another view of the Eliphante trunk.

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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.

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Hmmmm….Someone saw a rock on the trail and decided to paint it to look like an Amanita muscaria mushroom…

I exited Eliphante through this passageway to the trail to the parking area.

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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.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

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  1. Pingback: Eliphante Part 1 | Rubber Tramp Artist

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