Peek at artist Dotty Attie's "mountain man with dementia" home decor in Gramercy

By Abby Margulies  | August 11, 2014 - 9:59AM

Dotty Attie is an artist who, since the 1970s, has been exploring issues of gender identity, politics and culture through thought-provoking works that reimagine famous paintings and photography, combined with original texts. Last year she was inducted into the National Academy, and her work was the subject of a solo exhibition at PPOW Gallery in Chelsea.

For three decades she has lived in a four-story 1848 townhouse in Gramercy, where her sons grew up and where her studio is today. An avid collector, Attie’s home is teeming with eclectic tchotchkes and great vintage finds. Her favorite part, though, is a wall in her bedroom packed with objects, including art by her and her sons. Below, she tells us why the wall catches her eye:

Above, these portraits of Attie and her husband were done by her two sons when they were in elementary school. "Amazingly, they look just like us," she says.

What I'm most attached to in my house is a small area on a wall in my bedroom, which is an arrangement of masks, puppets, and drawings. My house is full of vintage and handmade furniture, and is pretty rustic looking. My preference is for things that look like they were made by a 96-year-old mountain man with dementia, and then left out in the rain for 20 years. My studio floor is 24-inch plywood squares with the grain going up and down on one and across on the next, like a checkerboard, and the floor in the dining room, kitchen, and living room is uneven slate slabs. Many of the walls are brick, and the windowsills have been scraped by me to show all the various colors they've been painted in the last 166 years. 

Above, Attie's masks come from a friend who traveled to Alaska, a flea market, San Francisco, and one that she made in freshman art school class. The wooden box, filled with puppet heads, is from a flea market upstate.

On the wall are four puppets I did as a project in art school, with help from my father, who cut out the pieces according to a pattern I gave him on a jigsaw, which I was afraid to use. They've been banged around a lot in the many years since then, but I like them even better that way. ... [The wall is] so full of my history as a daughter, an art student, a mother, and a wife, and aesthetically it's also completely me, and very pleasing to me on so many levels.​


Russell Whitmore, owner of Red Hook antique shop Erie Basin, picks his most attention-grabbing objet

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