Once upon a time, there was an east-coast landscape artist who decided to move to where it’s always 75-and-sunny and pursue a career in acting. While living in Los Angeles, the man spent time not only in front of the camera as an actor, but also behind as a filmmaker and photographer. A few years later, he knew it was time to move back home and plant some roots. He found himself a plot of land on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, where he built a farm and began tending the land.
Nearby this farm was an empty loft which caught the farmer’s imagination. Mind you, he was no ordinary farmer. A few years prior, the farmer took it upon himself to help the people of Luxton who had lost their beloved community lake to a broken damn, and built them a new place to swim and relax. Since the lake turned into a river, he cleared a new path and built a small beach. Dig and dig, this farmer did, until a swimming hole in the middle of the river emerged. Hooray, cried the town of Luxton, their swimming and relaxation could now resume.
So when the farmer saw this loft, he envisioned an art space in the form of a treehouse. Imagine Neverland with pulleys, ropes, swings, multiple platforms all over the place and seating booths in the sky. It would have a sailboat in the mix, too.
Coincidentally enough, it was 75-and-sunny when I ran into this multi-talented farmer, Andrew Kluger. Kluger sat down to share with me how he quite literally built his idea and the lessons he learned along the way.
Lesson #1: Setup crazy grand visions for projects to do. (They will probably take way longer than you anticipate. And that’s okay because it’ll give you more days to work on the fun thing.)
Andrew Kluger: I wanted to shoot a music video in a loft next to the farm I had built. I worked on a sailboat, and I was doing all of these beautiful, outdoorsy things, but then I decided I wanted to build an art center indoors. I said the only way I would work inside is if I was doing something crazy while doing it.
What I really wanted was a boat. My collaborator Jesse and I found a free boat that was sitting in a woodworker’s shop in Pennsylvania and we took my grandma’s Subaru Outback out there. The owner of the boat was like “Oh, you’re going to fix it up?” We’re like “Yeah, we’re gonna make a treehouse out of it.”
Lesson #2: Days are better when it’s a boat day. It’s a better day when you have to wake up early and do something that—before you do it— seems impossible. Seems like there’s no way you would take your grandma’s Subaru to Pennsylvania and put a 22 foot boat on the ceiling and drive it back and put it in the sky. That’s insane and impossible. Even though the human imagination is great, the way you could imagine it seems like it might not work and you have to figure out how in the moment.
Andrew Kluger: We chop his 25-year-old boat to pieces and Russian-dolled them together, put them on the roof of the Subaru, which I was sure was going to crush. We drove three hours back over the horizontal bridge with a 22-foot sailboat on the roof of my station wagon, got back to the loft. And with the help of three different sailors, we mounted it to the wall 15-feet-up at an angle.
Lesson #3: Do these projects with people who you trust that can bring a saw and some sturdy boots and their own imagination, and if you can trust each other enough such that you can swing around the tree house and use each other as counter weight, you’ll do something way cooler than you could do alone.
Andrew Kluger: I thought we were going to get pulled over. The thing is going to fly off the roof on the bridge and a tractor trailer is going to hit it and then swerve over and knock five cars off the bridge. That was my thought.
But I trusted Jesse. He trusted me. And I trusted myself enough that [I’d] throw myself into ridiculous situations and know that [when] the real fear kicked in, I’d use it as a gauge to assess how to [get] better and stronger. If you can, find someone else like Jesse who does that too. We sailed [together] into a lightning storm having never sailed before.
Lesson # 4: Take all the lessons learned into practice for new projects to come. It only gets better from there.
Genevieve Kim: What are you building now?
Andrew Kluger: It’s called End of the Island Studios, AKA, EOTI Studios because I basically only want to hang out at the center of civilization which is both NoMad and down by Wall Street, like the end of [Manhattan] Island. Then also at the end of tropical islands— I go to Sandy Hook a lot in New Jersey. I’m going to Cuba in May and the Bahamas in May.
At End of the Island Studios, it’s the exact same thing that I was doing at the farm, the loft and in acting. It’s finding the spark of life in someone else’s story, bearing all the burdens of it and standing strong enough to believe in and viscerally live in the character that they’re making. We do film, photo, and graphic design.
Genevieve Kim: The studio is based out of The Assemblage. Why The Assemblage?
Andrew Kluger: I had a post-it note on my wall for a while that said “Bring Bali to Wall Street.” I am on a life mission to be at the center of the future of capital. There’s a lot of emotional pain and grotesque privilege built into capital that we have now. But The Assemblage represents a dream that I had while I was at the farm and at the loft. It’s just coalesced through many, many other people’s parallel dreams. There’s definitely this appreciation for ancient wisdom and the future of capital.
Lesson #5: Let’s do something ridiculous and be on the boat together doing it.
Genevieve Kim: What’s in store for the future?
Andrew Kluger: It’s people who have grand visions and a spark of life, but maybe don’t have the like tools or mostly the crazy confidence and the collaboration to make it happen.
The farmers that I worked with spoke in poetry. They were brilliant and dedicated farmers. I was like ‘Cool, how can I spin this a little bit faster?’ Jesse had been wanting to build a recording studio in his loft for five years and was working on it, and doing so well, but I was like ‘Cool, how can I come in and like add the Peter Pan element in this where they all believe that they can fly.’ There’s a mentality in New York that ‘the future’s going to be better and I have to toil now and it kind of sucks now.’
I like the mentality that the future’s going be amazing. So find people who inspire you. You can be rowing together in the same direction such that you are working towards a grand goal and doing it collaboratively and enthusiastically while also believing that each and every day is The Day. Capital T, capital D. If you can put all those pieces together, then you’re on it. You’re doing it.
The moral of the story is if you’d like to set sail with our no-the-ordinary farmer Andrew Kluger, you can find him at the End of The Island Studios at The Assemblage. You can also check out this clip of EOTI’s work here.