Fish House

Rauschenberg purchased the Fish House, along with the Bay House and 3.5 acres of land, on December 29, 1978, from Joseph Van Vleck, Jr. The property was first owned by J.N. “Ding” Darling who was a well-known political cartoonist and was extensively involved in conservation. Darling was appointed Chief of the Biological Survey by President Roosevelt in 1934, and in 1936 organized and was elected president of the National Wildlife Federation. His quick action to preserve a portion of land on Sanibel led to it being named the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Darling purchased the land on Captiva from Clarence Chadwick in the late 1930s and in May of 1942, built his beloved Fish House. The dock was built with a counterbalanced drawbridge that he would pull up behind himself to work uninterrupted at his drawing desk. When he was forced to sell the property, he entrusted its preservation to Van Vleck, who in turn entrusted it to Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg, like Darling, found the Fish House to be a sanctuary, pulling up the drawbridge to be secluded.

Today, the drawbridge no longer exists, but the residency artists still use the house as a space for focused work, quiet reflection, and observation of the beautiful natural environment.

Fish House, photo by Laurie Lambrecht, 2012

Fish House, 2012. Photo: Laurie Lambrecht

“Moving Day” cartoon by Ding Darling, May 1, 1942. Photo: Courtesy Captiva Island Historical Society

Southwest Florida Library Network - Fish House 1970s

Aerial view of Fish House and Van Vleck property, with Weeks House on the far right, 1970s. Photo: Courtesy Sanibel Public Library and Southwest Florida Library Network.

Robert Rauschenberg House on the Water

Rauschenberg in front of the Fish House, Captiva, Florida, 1979. Photo: Terry Van Brunt.

Laurie Lambrecht-Jim Skuldt at Fish House-2014

Jim Skuldt working on a piece by the Fish House dock, 2014. Photo: Laurie Lambrecht.

Cheryl Lynn Bruce writing on the Fish House porch, 2015. Photo: Sage Sohier.

Daniel Selon and Sophie Hunter practice yoga on the Fish House upper deck, 2013. Photo: Laurie Lambrecht.

Colin Gilmore writes music in the Fish House, 2014. Photo: Sage Sohier

Colin Gilmore writes music in the Fish House, 2014. Photo: Sage Sohier

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