Taking the Plunge - Page 3

Original art makes the house look great—but it’s oh so easy to get hooked along the way
Taking the Plunge
Caught in a playful moment, Christianna and Michael Cohen ponder where to place a new framed print in their Walnut Creek Eichler.
Taking the Plunge
Michael Cohen with more of the family's art collection.
Taking the Plunge
Patrick Quiroz's weavings by designer Evelyn Ackerman.

Another whole-house guy is Patrick Quiroz, who lives in an Eichler in Orange's Fairhills neighborhood. He's been collecting mid-century modern furniture since it was cheap, and has a house filled with Eames fiberglass and plywood chairs, an Arne Jacobson dining set, and furniture by Bertoia, Nelson, and more.

"It was a perfect time to be collecting," he says of the 1970s and '80s.

On the walls Quiroz returns to his childhood, when his mother hung a weaving by designer Evelyn Ackerman in his bedroom. Today he has 15 Ackerman weavings, along with her mosaics and woodcarvings, which he loves for "the childlike quality, the color, the shapes, the design of it, the material."

"I'm attracted to unique design, something that's organic and flowing, with really nice lines to it," he says. "After that I'm attracted by materials, and color after that."

Quiroz also collects mass-produced ceramics by such California firms as Raymor Bitossi and Sascha Brastoff—vases, bowls, figurines, plates.

He doesn't share the predilection of many collectors to buy only unique original works, or limited editions. "I like the process of production, mass producing for everybody to purchase," he says.

He does, however, have a painting by Richard Diebenkorn.

Christianna and Michael Cohen, who have remodeled their Walnut Creek Eichler to accommodate their art, have built a collection that is both personal and functional.

Each piece, Christianna says, has an "emotional attachment." She adds, "I can tell you where we bought every one of them, and it's usually around some trip." And they have often gotten to know the artists. "It's a matter of appreciating the artist and the story," Michael says.

Many of their works are photographs, and many are about place. There's Rolfe Horn's 'Breaking Clouds,' showing sunset on the ocean. One of their favorite pieces is a limited edition relief by Maya Lin suggesting a river leading to the California Delta.

The function of the Cohens' collection? "It's kind of an escape from the real world," Michael says. "I have such a hectic work life. It brings you to a meditative state."

Taking the Plunge
At the Miscikowski-Tierney Eichler in San Francisco's Diamond Heights, Greg Miscikowski hangs out with a few pieces from their vibrant and colorful art collection.
Taking the Plunge
One of Greg's wild pieces: a cowboy theme by Skeith DeWine.

Less serene is the collection that Greg Miscikowski and Todd Tierney have put together in their Eichler in San Francisco's Diamond Heights. It's eclectic, lively, and challenging. Yet it works beautifully in the home thanks to effective curatorial choices.

"I think we have a good eye for placement," Miscikowski says.

Besides work by young or mid-career Bay Area artists like Rex Ray and Winston Smith, and oddball painted constructions by the legendary gay artist Jerome Caja, Miscikowski has filled his stairwell with a canvas he calls "cows in a collapsing barn."

"Who would want to have dead cows hanging on their wall?" Miscikowski wonders. But there the painting remains.

Dead cows aren't the only danger facing collectors. There is also the danger of taking your collecting more seriously than first anticipated.

Case in point, Hilary Somers, who began with a simple painting in blue and went on to become—a benefactress.

It didn't take long before Somers, who shares her Greenmeadow Eichler with three children and her husband Yu-Shen Ng, began not just buying art but commissioning artists to create works.

She brought in metal artist Daniel Hopper to create their home's front door, an almost frightening mélange of three-dimensional mushrooms, which appeals to Somers, who likes to hunt mushrooms.

Hopper also built Hilary and Yu-Shen's bed—and she has advanced Hopper money to create a project for a gallery exhibit.