Thursday, October 8, 2009

Artful clutter

The New York Times style section is featuring a "bizarre and beautiful" rural home, owned by painter Sean Scherer. The 19th Century Cape-style farmhouse, located in Walton, NY (population 5,607), was just over 1,000 square feet when Scherer purchased it in 2002. Since then, the farmhouse has tripled in size and undergone massive renovations.

And, then, there is the decor. Oh, the decor.

The farmhouse is a museum of sorts, brimming with natural curiosities, zoological diagrams, historical artifacts, and peculiar illustrations. Scherer's collections, displayed throughout, include transferware, mercury glass, vintage postcards, and antique mirrors. Although there is a dose of modern art here and there, including an Andres Serrano photograph, Scherer's relatively recent passion is "humble farm furniture," a taste he acquired after visiting a shop in nearby Andes (population 289).
“I don’t care about pedigree,” he said of the 19th-century furniture that fills the farmhouse. “I like the fact that the objects were made for a specific purpose. They may be a little crude but they also usually have clean, modern lines.”
One of Mr. Scherer’s favorite recent finds is a three-legged coffee table with a wooden surface decoratively crosshatched like a George Nakashima piece. “It’s a slaughtering table,” he said, brushing his hand along the surface. “Can you believe it? This is where they chopped off the heads of chickens — just chopping and chopping and chopping for years.”
In 2006, Scherer opened his own shop, Kabinett and Kammer, in Andes. Manhattanites, artists, designers, weekenders, and locals visit the "contemporary curiosity shop," where recent additions include a mounted deer ($750) and a stuffed pheasant ($175).
“I get plenty of local hunters who walk in my store and are in hog heaven because they get dead animals, rocks and anatomical charts,” he said.
The shop is selling dead animals and rocks, sure, but this is really a story about affluence. Art critic Peter Schjeldahl, actress Brooke Alderson, sculptor Roxy Paine, architect Sofia Mojadidi Paine, and comedians Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello all figure into the story line, as local residents and/or frequent visitors to Scherer's shop. Andes is also home to Kelsey Grammer and Edie Falco, reported the New York Times in 2003, along with a host of other artists, artisans, designers, and actors.

But don't be misled: this crowd, says Scherer, is the "anti-Hamptons set."

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