Art where the heart is

New event takes guests inside collectors’ homes

Maria Phillips says she doesn’t buy artwork to decorate her house, but rather because she loves it and the artists who made it.

Maria Phillips says she doesn’t buy artwork to decorate her house, but rather because she loves it and the artists who made it.

Treasures of a Collection
Four-home art tour, Saturday, April 12,
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Dinner with Paul and Yasuko Zinng, Sunday, April 13, 5-8 p.m.
Tickets for art tour only: $55 for CAC members, $60 for nonmembers
(includes a three-month membership). Dinner: $100.
Tour and dinner: $135.

Chico Art Center
450 Orange St., Ste. 6.

If you enter the home of a serious art collector, the first thing you will notice is that a wall that in any other house would hold one or two pieces of art will have a dozen or more. A small bathroom off the kitchen may hold eight paintings, a hallway may have 20 or more.

Maria Phillips’ home is like that. Every room is filled with artwork. She and her husband, Bob Klang, have run out of wall space. It’s like living in a museum, but much warmer and more inviting.

Besides being an artist herself and a former art history teacher, Phillips is currently director of the Avenue 9 Gallery in Chico. It’s no surprise, then, that much of the art in her home is by local artists—Valerie Payne, Norm Dillinger, Elizabeth Newman Kuiper, Waif Mullins, the late Richard Hornaday and many more. To see it all is to experience the full range, diversity and quality of the work being produced by these artists.

Phillips has an emotional connection to the work, as well. The artists are her friends, and each piece of art represents and reminds her of a friend. Instead of their photos, she puts their art on the wall.

The Phillips/Klang home is well suited to displaying art. Light enters through wall-to-wall glass sliders on its north and south sides, illuminating many of the rooms with strong indirect light.

The house is one of four that will be featured on the Chico Art Center’s inaugural Treasures of a Collection guided tour being held Saturday, April 12. The art center wants this fundraiser to become an annual event and is pulling out all the stops to make it attractive. There will be food as well as live music at each house.

Tour participants will be divided into four groups, with each starting out at a different house with a map and a schedule. They will rotate through the four homes, and at each the owners will talk about their collections, their motivations for buying art, and the joys of living with it.

In addition to the Phillips/Klang house, the tour will include the homes of Bruce and Jeanne Ertle, Dorna Andersen and Gwen Curatilo.

Curatilo’s a friend of mine and I’ve been in her house many times. Like Phillips, she’s filled her home with artwork. There are also many framed posters dating to her early career as a professional opera singer (she was a featured soprano with the San Francisco Opera Company) and her later work as director of Chico State’s fabled Opera Workshop program, when she was directing huge productions of such works as The Magic Flute and La Bohème. She’s an amazing woman, and a tour of her house is worth the cost of a ticket by itself.

Chico State President Paul Zingg and his wife, Yasuko, also are participating in helping to raise money for the CAC by opening their home to guests the following evening, Sunday, April 13, for a tour of their substantial art collection as well as a catered Japanese dinner. All but six of the $100 tickets had been sold as of last week, so the dinner event is no doubt sold out by the time you read this.

But there are plenty of tickets left for the Saturday tour, said Debra Simpson, the CAC’s office manager. She’s been in all four of the homes, and she’s convinced that it’s going to be a wonderful event. “It will not disappoint anybody who goes on the tour,” she said.