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Home Work:
Handbuilt Shelter


Michael Kahn
Pages 122-123
Pages 124-125
Pages 126-127
Pages 128-129

Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter

ELIPHANTE
Michael Kahn's Sculptural Village in the Arizona Desert

“When we started to build living space, we decided to make it an art form.”
The image below is a two-page spread (pages 122-123) from Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter. Click on any of the photos on the image to see a larger popup window of that photo (close popup window before clicking another photo). Page text is included below the spread.
Eliphante: Michael Kahn’s Sculptural Village in the Arizona Desert
Michael Kahn’s Sculptural Village in the Arizona Desert
Michael Kahn’s Sculptural Village in the Arizona Desert
Michael Kahn’s Sculptural Village in the Arizona Desert
Michael Kahn’s Sculptural Village in the Arizona Desert
Artist Michael Kahn

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Cob Houses of Mud & Straw

The Yurts of Bill Coperthwaite

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Page 122 Text: My cousin Mike started painting when he was 12, and he’s been an artist most of his life. No compromises, no job that would interfere with his art. We’re a year apart, sons of two brothers, and we played together as kids. We both went off to college in the ’50s, and I lost track of him until the early ’60s, when we lived next to each other for a year in Mill Valley, California.

Then in 1965, on one of those “consciousness-expanding” road trips of the times, I visited him in Provincetown, Cape Cod. Since then we’ve kept in touch over the years. So when I look at Mike’s work, I have a 60+ year perspective, and am hardly unbiased. That being said, I think Mike has created a major American work of art, conceived, built, and lived in, and unknown to the “art” world.

Mike’s a shy guy, and puts his efforts into his art rather than marketing. People don’t know about him. He doesn’t get grants from rich people or big corporations. This is why it’s exciting to show you his work in these pages.

Page 123 Text: Mike graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1958. He intended to go to graduate school to become a school psychologist, but met a portrait painter in New Orleans who rekindled his interest in painting. He moved to New York to study at the Art Student’s League and National Academy, then eventually to Provincetown where he studied with Henry Hensche. He then moved to Crete, living in an old farmhouse with a Mediterranean view and worked on a series of oil paintings. His wife Leda joined him there and they eventually moved to Paris, then back to Provincetown.

They spent a year building a camper on the back of a 1960 Ford flatbed. “It looked like a covered wagon.” Mike felt the urge to do large paintings at the time and had read Max Ernst’s description of the landscape around Sedona, Arizona, “. . . the forms of red rocks the closest to inner vision.” They drove the truck to Sedona in 1977 and met a man who told them they could set up camp on three acres of land along the banks of a river near Cornville. They started out with a leaky tent and the camper/truck. They had a little shed filled with their books (the “Winter Palace”), and cooked at an outdoor kitchen under the cottonwood trees.

“When we started to build living space, we decided to make it an art form.”