Monday, June 30, 2008
SLEIGHT OF HAND
PHOTOGRAPHY PETER MARGONELLI
INTERIOR DESIGN FRANK FAULKNER
TEXT MARC KRISTAL
In his Hudson Valley home and shop, Frank Faulkner practices the fine art of illusion
APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING, AS FRANK FAULKNER PROVED WHEN HE purchased his Hudson, New York, home. "It was the last really affordable place in town," the North Carolina born artist says of the two-story nineteenth-century carriage house and its attached 1950s-era garage he discovered under three feet of snow. Even better than this reverse sticker shock was the architecture's classical appeal.
"Classicism, for me, implies order and clarity, and this had that potential," says Faulkner. "There were just a few rooms, but they were well proportioned and scaled. I thought I could slap on a coat of paint and move in." Alas, when the spring snow melt exposed extensive dilapidation, he recalls, "I realized I was going to have to completely rebuild the house. I can"t seem to resist buying derelict houses and fixing them up." The artist bought his first Hudson Valley property in 1982, and has restored some 14 homes in the area since.
This time, Faulkner's interventions produced not only clarity but a sense of capaciousness. Working with architect Juan Carretero and garden designer Peter Bevacqua, the artist completely reconstructed both house and grounds. Faulkner turned the carriage house's entire front room into an entrance gallery, he says, "so you didn't feel you were walking into a mean little cottage." The fifties garage became a pavilion containing the living and dining rooms, while the second floor was converted into a loftlike master suite.
Decoratively, the artist united his interest in "classical furniture with a strong architectural silhouette" with mutually enriching juxtapositions of refined and ordinary pieces. While his collection includes examples of Biedermeier and Regency,many acquired from his "style mentor," the antiquarian Niall Smith: choices are never about value or provenance. "Everything is bought with an eye to proportion and scale and line," he says. "And nothing gives me more satisfaction than to take a piece of flea-market junk and change its context, put it beside something really good. It's all in the mix."
This philosophy carries over into Smoke and Mirrors, the store-front gallery Faulkner and his partner Philip Kesinger opened on Warren Street, Hudson's commercial artery. Faulkner initially used the 2000-square-foot floor-through exclusively as a painting studio. "But Philip and I are pack rats and had an overflow of stuff." There was also an eclectic collection of furnishings and objects drawn from the artist's second career as "a designer by default." So the pair converted the front third of the studio into a showcase for the high-and-low-style tableaux Faulkner characterizes as "sleight of hand." A master of illusion, the artist illustrates, once again, that deceptive appearances can be unexpectedly exciting.
Read the full story HERE