April 30, 2012

Photo Essay: Tile House, Hollywood Hills (Updated for 2018)

[Last updated 1/22/21 10:37 PM PT—Video embed added at bottom.]

[Updated 11/21/18 5:56 PM PT: Some photos from the same visit added, as well as details reflecting the tile artist's passing.]

In the Hollywood Hills stands a sprawling house built in the 1920s that's spent the last 40 years being covered in tile, inside and out.

Former pro wrestler and expert mosaicist George Ehling lives inside his masterwork with his Brazilian second wife, his musician son, and a couple of tenants.

From the pillars outside the garage doors at street level... the entry stairway...

...the habitat is actually quite lovely.

Unlike a lot of other folk art...

...this hodgepodge aesthetic doesn't outcries from the neighboring community.

Touring the Tile House gives a rare opportunity to actually speak to a folk artist in the domain over which he is master.

Unfortunately, George died in 2016 at the age of 89...

...but he kept working on his masterpiece until the very end.

The outdoor fountain features one of George's first works, a bird...

...and elsewhere, the house features tile drawn from a variety of sources.

Some were purchased from dealers...

...others received as a donation (particularly from his compadres in the movie business)...

...and still others and scavenged from the garbage.

George, a self-proclaimed madman, was still building scaffolding and climbing up the walls at 85 years old when I visited in 2012. I'm sure he didn't stop until he had to.

Not quite his former 10 hours a day, but still diligent (though no longer aided by the carpentry skills of Harrison Ford, who used to live across the street).

Like many other folk artists, George's work is never done.

His masterpiece is unfinished, a perpetual work-in-progress...

...which is probably what I can relate to the most.

George's Tile House is not to be mistaken for a different tile house in Venice...

...or any number of the other mosaic works of art in Southern California... Watts Towers or Bottle Village.

It was and still is a private residence—so, I owe special thanks to deLaB, Atlas Obscura, and Ford+Ching for access.

I'd like to go back and see how much George was able to complete in the four years between my visit and his death.

I'm keeping an eye out for the few and far between tours that are offered there.

Video added 1/22/21 10:37 PM PT:
 The Ehling Mosaic House from The Simon Productions on Vimeo.

Further Reading:
California Home Took 40 Years and a Lot of Patience (CA Home + Design)

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