Boiceville & Ashokan/Shokan

Brunel Park

  • History, Exhibits, Tours

The Emile Brunel Sculpture Garden and Studio, also known as the Totem Indian Trading Post, Le Chalet Indien, and Brunel Park, is located on Da Silva Road, just off the NY 28 state highway, in Boiceville, Town of Olive. It consists of seven sculptures and three buildings. Brunel was a French immigrant and artist who had become fascinated by the Native American tribes of the West during his travels there in the early 20th century. After a successful career as a photographer he bought a tract of land in the Catskills and built a studio residence and a resort on it, decorated with sculptures inspired by the Native American art he had seen. The resort closed and the statues were relocated soon thereafter when Route 28 was widened through it at the end of World War II, but the sculpture garden remained a popular roadside attraction afterwards.

In 1929, Brunel began construction of a studio residence on the site in the "neo-rustic" or French Arts and Craft style. His wife and daughter kept the sculpture garden maintained after his death in 1944, operating a nearby souvenir shop until 1985. The artist's home and studio remain intact, and were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

A short path west of the house climbs a gentle rise a short distance to the sculpture garden. It is dominated by three large sculptures created by shaped wire mesh filled with rocks and then covered in concrete. On the south of the garden is the 30-foot–tall (10 m) Moon Haw Haw, a male figure with a single feather at the rear of his head looking skwyard towards the Burroughs Range to the west with both arms outstretched, palms facing upwards. It is complemented by Natache, a similarly attired seated female figure with one hand held aloft. On her back is a child in a papoose.

The third sculpture, The Great White Spirit, is located in the north corner. It is a tree with spreading roots, of the same height as Moon Haw Haw. At its top are four faces representing Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. They are complemented by four faces at the base, representing the vices of jealousy, greed, hate and lust. Alternatively the four faces at the base represent the antithesis of those on top: Jesus and Satan; Moses and Pharaoh; Buddha and Mara, the king of Demons; and Mohammed and Bacchus, the god of wine. The work was Brunel's last and also serves as his monument, as his ashes are interred within it.
There are also two large totem poles made by the same method. A third which collapsed and was partially buried was resurrected in 2002. Smaller sculptures, including a nesting pelican and seated chief, which serves as a bbq chimney, are also located around the garden.

Additional Information

  • Open weekend afternoons year-round or upon request
  • Admission is free