"Give a man a couple of acres and a week in the woods, and he’ll start to plan his castle. It is an unusual soul, however, who proceeds to build 7 houses, 10 ponds, a hermit’s hut, a 17-foot-tall maple-wood Jesus and a yoga studio whose sculptured pink doorway resembles (with frank anatomical accuracy) the female genitalia.
The lord of this manor is a 60-year-old barefoot maverick named SunRay Kelley. And his fantastical hand-hewn compound lies at the end of a dirt road that bears his grandfather’s name, in the foothills of the Cascade Range, north of Seattle. The best way to discover SunRay Kelley’s work (picture a hippie Taliesin) is to make a pilgrimage.
One repeat visitor is the writer and founder of'Shelter Publications, Lloyd Kahn, whose definitive book on 1970s vernacular architecture, Shelter, is a touchstone for Mr. Kelley’s style. “It was kind of an odyssey,” Mr. Kahn said in a phone call from his own D.I.Y. home in Bolinas, Calif. “He’s really an artist. He doesn’t deal with the details of the real world all that engagingly.…' " (In the interview, I'm sure I said something like "realistically," not …"engagingly.")