With NYC's projected first frost date tomorrow, 10/15, here's a little reminder of this past summer.
A couple of weeks ago, I returned to New York from my summer home in Rangeley, Maine. My house is a converted vacation spot, known as York's Lodge (no relation), on a lake. The lodge which was in business from 1889-1961.
Flo on the lake
My studio for painting is what used to be the kitchen. The studio has sky lights and the windows look out on a lake where there are loons. The sound of the water and wind rustling the birch leaves mixes with the sound of spectralism from my cd player and the loons. The light from the west is too direct to paint from in the late afternoon, so I work before and sometimes after.
Flo in the painting studio.
Currently I am working on prepared panels which fit in my car, about 44 x 46 inches or smaller. Suitcases filled with postcards and stuff make nice level platform for dogs to rest on during 10 hour drive from NYC. They are happy to look out the car rear window. This summer I found some weathered plywood which I painted on. It takes a while to get started, but once I begin it is very lovely. My four dogs like on the couch and overstuffed chairs against the wall behind me.
Bobbin, Candy and Penny
They don’t care what I do as long as I'm happy. Which is nice. Later in the month I often turn my attention to photo and video and will work outside (late in the season there are fewer bugs) in the woods or on the lake. I might arrange for assistants to come up and stay in some of the other cabins. The dogs work then.
The videos for Sesame Street and The Hardly Boys film were made in Rangeley. The lodge is the epitome of “rustic modernization in the heart of the woods”. The light is intense. We have to use special filters. This year we did a lot of video and photo work on the dock. Jason, my assistant, worked the cameras and I did the dogs. It was fun, but the results were not very good. I had forgotten that it is not always easy.
WW and Flo on the dock.
When I return to NYC in the fall there is usually a lot of photo and video editing to be done and I will try to make sense of it. I also will want to view the paintings I have brought back to assess in the common light and blank white walls of the NYC studio.
Who, or what, are the Hardly Boys?
The premise of the Hardly boys is that the dogs Crooky and Batty, not unlike Frank and Joe Hardy (the characters they parody), are amateur detectives sniffing out clues using their super dog powers to track down criminals. When these powers are called upon they lose their human elements, hands, uprightness, clothing and turn into dogs.
How do you do it?
I am frequently asked how I turn the people into dogs. Simple: First I remove their added clothing while the actors who provide the arms and hands from behind slip away. Then I carefully lift the people creatures off their specially made stools and set them on the ground. Voila. Dogs!
Still on the set of The Hardly Boys
The poor dogs. Have they ever been injured?
Do they like doing it?
How much do they get paid?
How much do the actors who act behind the dogs providing gestures with their arms and hands get paid?
One more question. What was the most difficult scene in The Hardly Boys?
Getting the two dogs to look in different directions in the scene where the psychotic nurse and evil caretaker return to the cabin where the boys (girls) have found the maps of the garnet mine.
Do you have a question for William Wegman about art, life, or photography? Or something else? Lunch, maybe? Leave your question in the comments, and if it's really good, or really easy, WW will answer on the blog.
I grew up reading The Hardy Boys stories from the early 50's. Never as good as the covers, the books with numbingly memorable heroes and villains were a staple of every adolescent boy's reading in that era.
My favorite cover, and because of that, my favorite book, was The Missing Chums. I related to The Hardy Boys because of the danger the boys found themselves in -- which was not much, but enough to be fun. Reading the series as a kid, I never imagined that I might one day create my own version of The Hardy Boys.
In 1994, with my cast of four weimaraner stars, I set my mind to work on stories set in Rangeley Maine. The Hardy Boys become The Hardly Boys in my film Hardly Gold, starring sisters Batty and Crooky. Hardly boys, they are girls and dogs. Sequels in print and film were planned but not completed...yet.
Skowhegan, as the website says, is a nine week summer residency for emerging visual artists. It was founded in 1946, three years after I was born. The town of Skowhegan is in the middle of Maine (if you don't count the northern part where the potatoes are).
Potato Harvest, Aroostook County, Maine. Image via Card Cow.