In the year 2000, Bill Barrell ventured out from Jersey City with artist Jay Milder in search of a building they could transform into studios.
…. I had met Karl Stirner that summer at an exhibition that had taken place on the Lisa Stefanelli estate out along the river road. Karl had said to me, if you are ever in Easton, come on by. So, on that bitterly cold day while looking for a building, Jay and i dropped in on Mr. Stirner to see if he any any ideas. He had plenty.
He really wanted to see artists settle in Easton. He was very gracious and gentlemanly and said he knew of a few buildings we could explore but that it was too late in the day to go looking. Plus, it had started snowing furiously, a blizzard was upon us. Karl invited us to stay overnight as the highway would be treacherous. He fed us dinner and plied us with drinks. We sat into the night talking the pros and cons of Easton and its real estate. He suggested we come back when the weather was better and he would show us around. With that, he took us off to our rooms where we would sleep through the blizzard.
I don’t know where Jay slept but Karl had put me in a room that was full of African sculptures. Karl has an extensive collection of African art. One room he led me into was what looked like the spare parts department. It was full, wall to wall with canoe paddles, arms, legs, torsos, half heads and wooden pots, spoons and god knows what else. People show up at his door with African artifacts. He knows fakes from the real thing.
So, I climbed into my makeshift bed and lay looking at a group of sculptures who stared back at me, seeing me as the curiosity. It could have been quite frightening to some people, but I found it very enlightening. I fell off to sleep with the feeling I was being watched out for.
In the morning, I awoke to my good friends still gazing at me.
We thanked him for his generosity and told him we would be back. We did return and he did help us every which way. I am forever grateful to him for his help.
Note: You can read more about Karl Stirner in the current edition of “laini’s little pocket guide to Easton”.