It’s an oddball wonderland so eccentric that Alice could easily bask in new adventures. But the sheer individuality of Luna Parc might render even Lewis Carroll awestruck.
Tucked away in the farmlands of Sussex County, New Jersey, this lustrous dreamscape has been a work in progress for three decades since Ricky Boscarino first encountered a cabin in the woods and began transforming it into Luna Parc.
The architect and self-proclaimed “King-o-Luna” has reshaped his compound, nixing Sherwin-Williams in favor of taxidermy, bottle caps, miniatures, stringed instruments, yardsticks, and religious icons. An artist skilled in several mediums, Boscarino created a four-panel, stained glass mural depicting the journey of life from infancy to death, the perfect bathroom accompaniment to a stream of running water that trickles down through pastel-colored gravy boats.
Bubbling over on eight acres, the environmental madness consists of Boscarino’s gingerbread chalet, his gardens, a studio, scattered monuments, and a just-purchased annex house next door. It was a tinge of nostalgia that spurred him to stake his claim here. “I grew up in Piscataway and used to go to summer camp at Stokes [State Forest], so I knew the area a bit,” he recalls. “I started a jewelry business in 1986 and was looking for a place of my own. I really just stumbled upon it after pounding the pavement for a couple years. The building was an old hunting lodge, and the family that owned it hadn’t been around for a long time.”
Artistry is part of Boscarino’s lineage, which dates back to the Medicis in Italy. During his youth, he was inspired by parents who usually tackled multiple, around-the-house projects at once. While mother satisfied her yen for interior design by making window treatments and collecting pottery, father proved adept at processes like cement mixing. “I was instilled with a fearlessness when it comes to working with materials,” he says.
And the virtuoso’s presence illuminates every nook and cranny of the Parc. The front yard is awash in brilliantly hued sculptures, walls, and spires. Nearly everything is encrusted with swirling mosaics of tile, glass, and painted metal. This is a psychedelic castle in the air where bowling balls form flowerbed borders and fences are made out of crutches. Not surprisingly, the mastermind describes his home as a place where “more is more.” The ballroom needs some finishing touches; a rooftop garden is being planted. Luna is a labyrinth of staircases, hidden rooms, and lookout towers, all adorned with Boscarino’s visionary artwork – a hybrid of museum and thrift store.
One of the outlying structures is a hut fashioned from a sea of azul. “Some are SKYY Vodka and others are Arizona Iced Tea,” he laughs. “Whenever I have an event here, I always get donations of various things I ask for. This project will be made entirely of blue glass bottles, which are the hardest to come by. I originally estimated I’d need about 1,500 bottles to complete it, but now it looks like I’ll need about 3,000. And I didn’t even drink one of them!”
Another point of embellished whimsy, set amidst aging movie set props and odd junk yard finds, is a chapel that Boscarino erected as an homage to his grandfather who, notes the artisan, once witnessed a miracle in Sicily.
“That’s where the crutches come in, kind of like ‘Catholic kitsch.’” Then, there’s the forthcoming tribute to a pancake topping: hundreds of empty syrup bottles set into concrete blocks. “I’m going to have a nine-foot replica of Mrs. Butterworth that’ll be lit from within. Actually, it’s almost better describing what this will look like rather than what it might end up being,” he declares.
A time-out from frivolity comes from the studio where Boscarino creates his finer pieces of jewelry and pottery, which he peddles at craft fairs across the country. Earrings and charms are three-dimensional utilitarian items – shoes, chairs, and kitchen gadgets, to name a few – made of brass and silver. With the help of assistants, he forges ornate pins, necklaces, and pendants in a variety of styles. The ceramic concepts boast unconventional shapes and glazes, and a recent series of Face Pots, loosely based on Pre-Columbian vessels, imbue Boscarino’s sense of humor.
Two years ago, he formed Luna Parc Atelier, a nonprofit that brings prodigies to the site for teaching and mentoring. “I want to set an example of how an artist can make a living from his work. It’s part coaching, part giving them life skills,” explains Boscarino. Recently, he also visited public schools and worked with students, imparting variegation techniques and helping them create permanent exhibits. Luna serves as the penultimate training ground, where apprentices make and glaze their clay tiles, fabricate the patchworks, and participate in the installations.
Despite his long-range goals, Boscarino avoids an endgame for the ever-evolving estate. “My master plan is to not have a master plan, which keeps me open. It’s all about ‘layering.’ I can take something down and improve on it, or move it around and add to it. There are no mistakes, that’s the magic. Things will always change. People have this misconception of the final product. If it starts to deviate from the original idea, they get frustrated. The beauty of creating stuff is that progress is inevitable.”
Luna Parc is a private home not open to the public, other than by invitation.
The first of the property’s biannual open houses occurs June 5th – 7th, 2019. Dates for October have not been finalized.
22 Degroat Rd, Sandyston, NJ
By: Tom Eccleston