Friday, July 20, 2012

Photo Essay: Mosaic Tile House, Venice

When you try to photograph or describe the Mosaic Tile House in Venice, CA, you simply cannot do it justice. From the moment you arrive at the front gate, the tile-covered labyrinth of the front yard - littered with bathtub benches, bathtub planters, and various arches crossing over above and animals arising from the patio below - is completely overwhelming.



That's why getting an interpretive tour from Tile House resident and artist Cheri Pann is not only enjoyable, but necessary - just to know what you're looking at.



Cheri creates much of the glasswork and glass tiles featured in the house's mosaic patterns, which are designed primarily by her husband Gonzalo Duran...



...who also welds together various pipes...



...scissors...



...and silverware into gates, grates, screens, etc.



My interest lies mostly in the details - the elements that pop out from the chaos...



...where everything is brightly colored...



...and catches the light.



The fun is in the treasure hunt of what found objects are embedded into the walls alongside the tiles...



...like some golf clubs...



...or lids and rims...



...or glass bottles that Cheri has heated up and flattened out...



...or shattered dishware...





...and various caps.



Some of the tiles make a statement...



...while others are a bit more whimsical...



...but the real whimsy comes through the faces that emerge from the mortar...



...and are set atop various ledges...





...and against walls.













Occasionally, you find a shoe - like this one, handcrafted by Cheri and Gonzalo.



The entire place is fanciful - including the inside, which features a gift shop inside the front door...



...with more faces to greet you...



...including those staring down at you from a wall of Beanie Babies and other stuffed animals, mostly donated by the children of tourist visitors to the house.



Upon examining the tiled stairs leading upstairs, I asked Cheri if they were planning to tile the walls too, or to leave them blank. "Oh, leave them blank," she said, explaining that the difference between their tile house and places like Bottle Village or Watts Towers is that theirs is not folk art, it's art. "For them, it's an obsession," she said. "In art, there's planning. We strategize everything."



She then proceeded to show me all the areas that are as yet unfinished, and all the work that still needs to be done.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Tile House, Hollywood Hills
Photo Essay: Bottle Village


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