Artists Marion Peck and Mark Ryden are known for works of surrealist pop art that have often confounded critics, even as they intrigue and inspire a growing list of very prominent admirers and even imitators (the notorious meat dress Lady Gaga wore to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards was reportedly inspired by one of Ryden’s paintings).
What many fans may not realize is that Peck and Ryden's house in Eagle Rock is something of a work of art unto itself.
Or, at least, it was until earlier this month, when the couple began packing up their things in preparation for a move. Tired of the relentless Southern California sunshine, Peck Ryden are headed for the gloomier environment of the Pacific Northwest—where the skies better match somber hue of some of their best known works.
Fortunately, Peck and Ryden invited Curbed LA to capture the eclectic splendor of their home before it changes hands. Filled with a truly astonishing array of collectibles, trinkets, sculptures, works of art, and curious artifacts, the home’s interior design is the product of years of collecting. The couple moved in 11 years ago, but Ryden says he has been gathering, "junk, treasures, and bric-a-brac" for most of his adult life. "They are the things that inspire me in my art making," he says.
Peck and Ryden have had shows around the world and have picked up many items in their travels, but Ryden says his most fruitful source of loot has been the monthly Rose Bowl flea market, which he has been frequenting since 1984, when he was a student at the nearby Art Center College of Design.
Ryden says the rooms aren’t necessarily themed, though a connecting motif sometimes develops over time. That certainly seems to be the case in a bathroom that has been turned into an odd memorial to Abraham Lincoln. The sixteenth president features prominently into a number of Ryden’s works, and he notes that he has been collecting images of Lincoln for years.
"There is something indefinable that is endlessly fascinating about Abraham Lincoln," he says. In a 2014 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Ryden explains, "there’s something about the power of [Lincoln’s] face, because he was one of the first famous people to be heavily photographed ever, and he has such a strange face. It just sticks with you."
The physical structure of the home is interesting in its own right. Ryden explains that it was constructed in 1925 with rocks gathered from the Arroyo Seco. "Our home is architecturally unique in that the stonework is not just a superficial façade," he says. "The actual structure is solid rock for three stories." Appropriately, Peck and Ryden refer to the home as "The Rock House."
They’ve made a number of significant changes to the property in the years since they moved in. Most notably, an addition to the guest house now serves as a studio space. The spacious room is lined with books, paintings, toys, and—of course—plenty of Lincoln paraphernalia.
The back yard area has also seen some updates (in case you couldn’t tell by the giant triceratops sculpture at its center). Specifically, the couple has added deck space, tiled stairways, and a spa/lap pool covered by a pergola of Ryden’s own design.
Now, the couple has begun the long process of disassembling the truly unique collection of artifacts that graces nearly every inch of the home. They aren’t planning to dispose of those objects, but they hardly hope to recreate the look of their current home after the move. The new place is "much more modern," Ryden says. "We will bring all of our treasures up there, but everything will come together in a new way."