Eliphante: Sculptural Art Village
Eliphante is a special place near Sedona Arizona. It’s a “sculptural art village” ensconced within the rural neighborhood of Cornville. This rustic oasis is feral in nature and is bordered between the beautiful Oak Creek, one of the largest vineyards in the area, and wild desert.
The story of Eliphante, and my experience with it, is engaging enough to be bifurcated.
This first section is short and covers the creation story. Here you'll find the highlights of who initiated it, how they did it, when, and why. It’s a kind of pastoral piece with pictures that is designed to entertain and inspire.
The second section is a meditation on my experience living there and my perspectives relating to human behavior in general, and society at large. In contrast to this post, it goes deep in the way that I illustrate how the content of a microcosm effects the context of a macrocosm.
In the late 1970’s, Michael Kahn and his partner Leda Livant Kahn moved to the Southwest, drawn by the dramatic inspiration of Sedona and the need for a warmer climate than Provincetown, Mass. A synchronistic meeting with the owner of a small ranch along Oak Creek in Cornville provided them with an opportunity for living and creating for the next 30 years.
Being an artist, Michael began invoking some of his painting aesthetics into a third dimension, transforming natural features - such as stone and river wood - into surreal structures coated in brilliant colors.
For nearly 30 years, Michael built these structures with the help of his wife Leda and friends. His work seems more shamanic than artistic as his methodology defied convention. Michael never explained his creation, it just is. The most significant of his sculptural work is the half subterranean structures of “Eliphante”, the first experimental building, “Pipedreams”, the art gallery, and “Hippodome”, where the couple lived. In between the buildings, stone paths cut through a natural, yet sculpted environment.
During their years creating Eliphante, it was a magical environment full of spontaneous social interaction that left the most endearing and unforgettable memories for those involved with it.
The buildings and structures at Eliphante, while expressions of creativity and artistry, were also Michael’s solutions to the practical needs for work space, shelter and housing for himself and his wife Leda. Michael lived there until his death in 2007. Leda remained there until 2009, and now lives in Cottonwood AZ.
Eliphante is a private residence and not open to the public. It is looked after by a non-profit organization, established in 1987 to preserve and restore the art and works of Michael Kahn and Leda Livant-Kahn.