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Artist’s home burns to the ground; another daunting hurdle to overcome

Artist Franciszek Kulon poses with a new painting he was working on that was meant to depict some members of the Sullivan County judicial system.

By Fritz Mayer
February 25, 2014

Artist Franciszek Kulon has faced a string of hardships since purchasing a home in Aden Hill Road Parksville in 1997: his neighbor tried to shoot him, local officials initially sided with the neighbor and Kulon was twice jailed, a judge sued Kulon for painting a likeness of the judge and the county attempted to foreclose his home.

Now comes another traumatic event for the Polish-born artist: his home in Parksville burned to the ground on February 18, destroying numerous paintings, cameras, movie and audio equipment and just about everything else he owned.

His paintings have gained an international following, at least in part because of depictions of local officials in various states of undress; some call them lewd; he calls them humorous.

His fame was further enhanced by a freedom of expression lawsuit against Sullivan County officials, which he won.

Kulon said the cause of the blaze in unknown. He said it started in the roof, which he finds perplexing because there were no wires or other obvious sources of ignition where the blaze started.

Kulon’s Sullivan County experience

According to court documents related to various incidents, most of the multiple complaints filed against Kulon by his neighbor, James D’Ambrose, were ultimately dismissed. Nevertheless, because of these complaints and other reasons, Kulon was twice arrested and spent several days in jail. He was convicted of harassment and an order of protection was issued against him, and those convictions haunt him to this day, preventing him from gaining United States citizenship.

This is the case even though the documents show D’Ambrose took a shot at Kulon with a shotgun, and some of the pellets hit a tractor Kulon was standing near. D’Ambrose was allowed to plead guilty to reckless endangerment and leave the area. Ten years later, Kulon is still angered with local officials for what he sees as allowing D’Ambrose to get away with attempted murder.

In another interesting facet to his case, Kulon said his house once belonged to Liberty Justice Jeffrey Altbach, though Kulon didn’t know it at the time, and Kulon bought the house through Altbach’s former wife. Kulon once tried to get some information about his case from Altbach, but said he had no luck.

Kulon then painted a picture of Altbach, showing him with horns and naked except for a tie and a bit of shirt. He also used a picture of Altbach from the phone book to promote the painting.