The Boardinghouse is an account of how a diverse group of high spirited, self-assured, talented youths were able to meld in supporting one another during Vogel's first year as a student at the Chicago Art Institute's School of Fine Art during the desperate times of the great depression. The book portrays one year in the lives of eighteen young men from various parts of the country who shared similar dreams of becoming an artist.
In this Artist Community House, under the charge of Malcolm Hackett, some of the other young art students included Don Goodall, later to become Chairman of the Art Department at the University of Southern California and then the University of Texas at Austin; Gibson Danes, later to become chairman of the Art Department at UCLA and then Yale School of Art and Archeology; Dick Shaw who later would work on such cartoons as "Grin and Bear It," and "Mr. Magoo."
"The art world is overwhelmed by experts who tell us what is good and of value . . . You will be confronted by the art historian, the curator, the critic, the collector, the dealer—and then . . . your family and well-meaning friends . . . In the end the only voice to listen to must be your own. You have to believe in yourself without doubts."—Donald Vogel
"The door opened . . . a tall figure smiled at me. He was impressive; a silver shock of gray hair, a full mustache, bushy eyebrows, and a strong, handsome face with deep-set eyes . . . A loose blue, open necked, light linen pullover shirt hung free over baggy, tan, cotton pants . . . He looked like a painter, reminding me of photographs of Paul Gauguin that I had seen . . . at last I was to be in the company of artists."—Donald Vogel, about Malcolm Hackett