While Shawn and Eamon were visiting, we got talking one evening about our days as art students. For Dan and myself, we attended the School of Art at Cooper Union. Somehow or other I began to remember a visit I made with some friends to an artist who lived in the woods near Woodstock, NY. He lived like a hermit in a little house, which he had made into an artwork itself.
He also maintained a large studio where he carved the most amazing sculptures from pieces of wood he collected from around his property.
These images do not convey the power of his work. First, they are huge. Second, one has an immediate sense of a hand that knew how to dance with the wood and draw out what was held inside it. They are wood being wood.
So often, as an art student, I met older artists, professors or visiting artists, and their work was ever so slightly disappointing. A feeling of compromise pervaded the work, or a sense of not quite finishing it to edge. But not with this artist. Every detail of his art, his life, was not just considered but lived, experienced, to the fullest.
I remember he served us Turkish Delight and Miller beer. The three of us sat in his little house, anxious to have him like us but unable to say anything that could possibly meet such an amazing person where he was. At least that's how I felt.
While reminiscing with Shawn, I could not remember the artist's name but, as these things usually do, I finally remembered it the next day as I made up my bed. His name was Raoul Hague.
He died a few years after our visit but the memory of the power of his work and the integrity of his life and the unbelievable amazingness of his house have stayed with me. His house is now the home of the Raoul Hague Foundation and, apparently, one can tour it by appointment.
Perhaps on our next trip upstate...
ETA - After posting this, I email the Raoul Hague Foundation about making a visit and they replied that they are not currently allowing visitors on the property.