Every surface is a canvas for artists Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran, who have covered the walls, floors and landscape of their Venice home with mosaic tiles, broken plates, figurines — even teacups.
Even though this would usually be classified as folk art, the two artists that created the Mosaic House and call it home don’t necessarily consider themselves to be folk artists. Folk art to them is unplanned & obsessive, while the work they do is more thought out and refined.
After a short personal tour given by Cheri, I spent the next 2 hours exploring their home inside and out.
The dark side of Cheri Pann.
As longtime “significant others,” who are now officially husband and wife, artists Pann and Duran have embraced the dual motifs of harmony and love. They both paint and sculpt, but tile is the medium they share most intimately.
These long time lovers waited 10 years before finally tying the knot.
Brightly hued mosaic tiles, figurines, miniature tea sets and smashed-up plates are cemented onto walls, inside and out.
Pann bought the house in 1994. The interior was a wreck and the beige stucco exterior was unacceptably bland.
She liked the house for its enormous backyard and eventually filled that space by erecting a studio the size of a small barn.
The kilns share a room behind the main studio with Duran’s surrealistic works.
Some people have called him the Mexican Marc Chagall.
After the studio was built, the couple decided to jazz up a couple of drab bathrooms with tile. One room led to another…
Pann grew up in East Los Angeles. Her mother envisioned her as a performer and sent her to piano, dance and acting lessons. But at 18, Pann went to a Van Gogh retrospective and there standing before one of his paintings, she proclaimed herself an artist.
From the late 1960s to the mid-’90s, she exhibited in California and Japan. She studied printmaking, drawing and ceramics at UCLA, USC and Cal State Los Angeles.
Born in Mexico, Duran, immigrated to LA as a boy. He went on to study at the Otis Art Institute and Chouinard School of Art. He meet Pann while working at Nova Color, a Culver City artists paint store. One day at the shop, they hit it off and just started kissing each other.
They enjoy pedaling their tandem bicycle through the hood…
…and snapping up ceramic treasures and plastic toys they find at garage sales.
Friends leave broken plates at the doorstep, knowing they will find new life on a wall, path or improvised gate.
Duran spends eight to 12 hours a weekend incorporating their finds into incredible works of art.
They began giving tours years ago. Opening their home to anyone who calls or emails them and pays $12 upon their arrival.
Beanie Babies, mostly donated by children who have visited, fill the dining room wall.
Cheri’s darker side can be seen on a small portable fridge filled with discarded Barbi Dolls and condoms.