A Philip Johnson House, Transformed Into a Community Hub for the Future
Nestled in a cozy pocket of Newburgh, in New York’s Hudson Valley, is an architectural gem designed in 1949 by Philip Johnson, the American architect known for his noble modern and postmodern structures. Benjamin V. Wolf, a prominent owner of a department store in downtown Newburgh, commissioned Johnson to create the house, which is marked by the architect’s signature open-plan layouts, floor-to-ceiling windows, and fluid circulation. In 2020—as the architecture and design world was grappling with how to address Johnson’s legacy in the aftermath of his fascist views becoming more widely known—the property was purchased and restored by Jiminie Ha, the Guggenheim Museum’s director of graphic design and founder of the creative agency With Projects, and art director Jeremy Parker. Determined to establish the residence as a symbol of inclusivity, the two have reimagined it as the Wolfhouse, a community-focused cultural space and incubator with public programming centered around art, architecture, and design.
All events seek to elevate emerging or underrepresented voices shaping culture today. To increase their accessibility, the programs will occur in person and online, the latter taking the form of NFT drops, metaverse events, and presentations in a VR gallery. “This is new territory for us,” Parker says of the Wolfhouse’s virtual ambitions. “But we have a wonderful group of artist friends, none of whom were working on NFTs when we obtained the property. After spending time at the house, we thought it was a great opportunity to introduce thoughtful artists to a new medium of exploration.”
For their first project, Parker and Ha, together with With Projects, designed the Relix collection, a contemporary interpretation of the classic Rider–Waite tarot deck. The Rider–Waite cards, first created in 1909, helped propel the art of tarot reading into the future by removing the traditional Christian imagery that was present in earlier forms of the deck, and incorporating occult-themed visuals. Parker and Ha’s iteration evolves the original deck further by stripping away the layered symbols of the imagery, and replacing them with pared-down graphics that reference the Wolfhouse’s architectural details. Their cards also take the form of NFTs, and feature meditative, slow-moving graphics. According to Parker and Ha, the repeating patterns in their version of the cards echoes the spirit of modernism, and channels mysticism through their dynamic animation.
The pair created three decks, each consisting of 78 cards: There’s the Sun deck, which expresses the home’s constant exposure to natural light; the Cypress deck, which references the material of the structure’s exterior; and the Analog deck, which represents the process used to design the building. The cards, which have been available for presale exclusively via wolfhouse.art since April 16, will today be revealed to presale buyers, who will receive a Web3-powered tarot card reading. (The remaining cards are still available.) Each NFT purchase also includes a guidebook that details the meanings and symbolism of all cards in the deck, as well as early access to future Relix and Wolfhouse projects. Some of the cards even include additional perks, derived from the card’s meaning. Anyone who drew the High Priestess card, for example, will receive an additional reading from celebrated tarot card reader Rashunda Tramble. Other bonuses include physical Relix decks and one-night stays at the Wolfhouse.
True to the Wolfhouse’s mission, proceeds from the Relix collection will be dispersed between the artists it commissions to create work for the initiative; funding for future programming; the forest conservation charity Re:wild; and Activation Residency, a Black trans-led artist residency program that provides safe, collaborative spaces that adapt to its participants’ needs.
In the coming months, the Wolfhouse will ramp up its offerings. Future drop dates and events include the Strawberry Moon (June 14), Buck Moon (July 13), and Sturgeon Moon (August 11). Planned around the Lunar calendar, the releases nod toward Parker and Ha’s excitement around the infinite possibilities that Web3 and the metaverse can have on art and design—and their dedication to using the technologies for good.