Talk of the Town - Eye of the beholder November 10 2004

Frank Mullen's Northcrest home is a dream come true

Father, photographer and fortuitous: collector of visual stimuli, Frank Mullen is a self-made success story. A punk-rock dad who carved a career out of shooting rock stars for everyone from Rolling Stone to US Weekly, Mullen is a true professional in the photo biz.

Residing in his outwardly modest, inwardly cavernous Northcrest house with wife Vanessa, son Kyle, dogs Lucy and Chuck, and cat Monk, Mullen's home is a museum of eye candy. Every room in his late-'60s contemporary California-style home boasts pop culture spanning the mod-1960s to the modern hum of post-millennial Macintoshes. Mutant cartoon art by everyone from famed artists Charles Burns and Lynda Barry to local artist R. Land line the living room. Beatles action figures, antique photo equipment and a gallery-worthy display of his own pictures cover the walls, combining sensory overload with homespun charm.

Though Mullen presides over a bit more than the average two cars and 2.5 kids (cat and dogs included), he is a freewheeling tenant of the American dream. He's an artist who by doing what he's always wanted to do, and doing it well, has landed right where he's always wanted: in his dream house.

Creative Loafing: How did you find this house?

Mullen: My wife found it. The house was up for sale by the owner but it doesn't look too cool from the outside. It had a really lame flier posted, too, so we never really checked it out. When we finally did, we were totally blown away.

As he motions toward the freezer, he also points out the two gigantic windows on both sides of the living room.

From the front you can see all the way through to the back, and we get these kamikaze birds that fly right into the front window. We keep finding them dead on the porch.

He removes two plastic baggies from his freezer, each containing a tiny red and blue dead bird. One is an Indigo Bunting, and the other one is a Scarlet Tanager.

We're hoping to get them stuffed. Bummer for them, but they look cool.

You also have a lot of bullhorns and clown paintings around your house. Are these things you're really into as well?

No. It's funny how you suddenly realize you're collecting something. I really like fringe artists, folk artists, that kind of stuff.

Northcrest is just outside of the Perimeter. Do you think a suburban neighborhood like this might not be the most accepting place of you and your passions?

Not really. This is the most neighborhoody neighborhood I've ever lived in and I get along with all the neighbors. Our basement flooded recently and one neighbor helped us suck the water out. Another one brought some fans. On top of that, I'm only 20 minutes from places like the Echo Lounge, and with the hours around what I do, I don't ever have to fight with traffic.