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The Houseboat Studio

By far our mosr significant exhibirion is Noble’s houseboat srudio, which opened in April 2002.

Noble wrore that the studio was the place where “mosr of my picrures have been clumsily breech birched fo r nigh unro forry years wirh great effort and small grace.”

In 1977 he wrote an essay for his self-porrrair lithograph Wreck, Studio, Artist and 3 Barrels-or 3 Wrecks and 2 Barrels-or 2 Barrels and 3 Wrecks.

In ir he described rhe srudio’s hisrory, and no one could do ir better.

He found the old cabin, occupi ed by T illison Gorton, the warchman of the O ld Porr Johnston coal docks in Bayonne, New Jersey, in rhe early 1930s.

Then Tillison died, Noble began ro adapt rhe cabi n, a teak saloon from a European yachr, inro a srudio.

Port Johnsron was “rhe wo rld’s grearesr hard coal complex” unril a fire.

sometime in the ea rly 1920s destroyed ir, and it became “a great boneya rd.”

“I first laid eyes on these acres of new, old, and dead vessels as a boy in 1928 from the deck of a stone schooner,” Noblewrore.

“I must say rhe sight affected me for lifeand shordy rhereafrer I was drawing them.

… Well, it was but a few years more, and I was making my living there, keeping the vessels which had not yet sunk pumped out and watching their lines.

“Now rhis great length of pier was puncruated by odd cabins thar had been thrown aside in wrecking operarions.

One of rhese was the teak saloon of a European yach r.

One summer day when things were slack I had a sudden impulse.

 I cut a hole in its roof and fashioned a makeshift skylight.

Through rhe years I rebuilt and collected teak fittings-adding, changi ng. Unknown ro me was how much I was becoming wedded ro my cabin studio.

The shock ro me was deep when the dock, already badly collapsing, was abandoned, and in panic I builr rhe wooden barge which enabled me ro escape from the boneyard.

For years now I have been plagued wi rh Oh! the artist with the floating studio, etc. etc.

There is no cureness nor color in all rhis for me-rhe only small romance is thar I did escape.

“Thus ir came abo ut rhat now my own litde leaking Monricello pitches and survives in rhe wake of rhe passing tugs.”

Noble anricipated a final mooring on land fo rrhe cabin when he began in 1982 ro disassemble ir and move ir to Opossum Acres.

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