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Mosaic Tile House in California stands as monument to 2 Decades of artistic collaboration

Pann was encouraged by family and professors to pursue accounting, but at age 18 she went to a Van Gogh show and never looked back

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Mosaic Tile House
Mosaic Tile Artwork. Representational image. Pixabay
  • The Mosaic Tile House stands as a monument to two decades of artistic collaboration between Cheri Pann and husband Gonzalo Duran
  • The house is on a quiet street, a 20-minute bike ride from the beach and Pann bought it in 1994 and wanted to build an art studio in it
  • Pann was encouraged by family and professors to pursue accounting, but at age 18 she went to a Van Gogh show and never looked back

The Mosaic Tile House in California stands as a monument to two decades of artistic collaboration between Cheri Pann and husband Gonzalo Duran. 

“Its tchotchke heaven,” Pann, 76, told Reuters about her kaleidoscopic bungalow. “It’s turned out to be homage to putting everything possible into cement.”

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By “everything,” Pann means figurines of poodles and hula girls, commemorative china baseball bats and a sweeping arch of coffee cups, their handles pointing skyward. Smashed pottery and shards of mirror make up the more traditional mosaic patterns on the house’s interior and exterior surfaces.

The couple met in 1992 when Duran was working at an art supply store and Pann was in need of some acrylic paints. They still go back to the same store for supplies.

Photos of artists Gonzalo Duran and Cheri Pann are seen in the kitchen of their Mosaic Tile House in Venice, California U.S., August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Photos of artists Gonzalo Duran and Cheri Pann are seen in the kitchen of their Mosaic Tile House in Venice, California U.S., August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The house is on a quiet street, a 20-minute bike ride from the beach. Pann bought it in 1994 and wanted to build an art studio in it. After the studio was built, Pann made tiles for the bathroom.

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“It was so much fun doing it, we just kept on going,” said Duran, 72, who was born in Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles.

Tiles in the shapes of butterflies, camels and giraffes surround the sink. A ceramic cockerel sits proudly atop the breakfast bar. One of the walls is covered in photographs of the couple. Kitchen appliances are decorated with paint.

The collaboration is, Pann said, the ultimate “honey-do” project. She makes the tiles, he lays them. 

“He’s busy working, working, and working and then I’ll come along and say, ‘Hon, hmmm, there is something wrong and I won’t know what it is.’ And then he’ll take a look back and he’ll say, ‘Ah, I know what it is,’ and then he’ll fix it,” Pann said. 

Pann was encouraged by family and professors to pursue accounting, but at age 18 she went to a Van Gogh show and never looked back. 

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“The story behind the house is really about the love story behind Gonzalo and myself,” Pann said. “We salsa in the house, we kiss all day long, and if it weren’t toxic, I’d paint on him.” 

Pann hopes the Mosaic Tile House eventually will be preserved on the National Register of Historic Places. He is convinced the house will stay standing. 

“To tear this down is a big job. So I mean it’ll be here forever,” he said. (Reuters)

 

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California Wildfire of 2017 Caused By Homeowner Equipment: Agency

In the report released Thursday by the state, one witness reported seeing a transformer explode. Another reported seeing the fire approach a PG&E power pole.

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California
An aerial view of properties destroyed by the Tubbs Fire is seen in Santa Rosa, California, Oct. 11, 2017. VOA

In a long-awaited report, state investigators said Thursday that a 2017 wildfire that killed 22 people in Northern California wine country was caused by a private electrical system, not equipment belonging to embattled Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.

The state firefighting agency concluded that the blaze started next to a residence. It did not find any violations of state law.

“I eliminated all other causes for the Tubbs Fire, with the exception of an electrical caused fire originating from an unknown event affecting privately owned conductor or equipment,” CalFire Battalion Chief John Martinez wrote in his report.

Some details about the property, including its owner and address, were blacked out of the report. It said the Napa County property about 3 miles (5 kilometers) north of Calistoga was built in 1946 on about 10.5 acres (4.2 hectares) with a wine cellar, pool and several outbuildings.

Wildfire
A statue stands among the remains of a home destroyed by the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 10, 2017. VOA

PG&E said in a Jan. 2 court filing that it believed a handyman performing unlicensed electrical work started the wine country fire. In that filing, it identified the owner of the Napa County compound as Ann Zink. The utility said it provided electricity to Zink’s property by a line that connected to a service riser but that Zink had a private system to carry power to other buildings as well as equipment such as a water pump and water storage tank.

PG&E said it had no responsibility to maintain or inspect the private system.

Zink, 91, told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2017 that her house was unoccupied at the time of the fire and she was at her other home in Riverside County when the blaze began.

PG&E bankruptcy filing

The Tubbs Fire was one of more than 170 that torched the state in October 2017. It destroyed more than 5,600 structures over more than 57 square miles (148 sq. kilometers) in Sonoma and Napa counties.

PG&E previously said it plans to file for bankruptcy protection next week, citing billions of dollars in potential damages from lawsuits linking its equipment to other deadly blazes for which it has been determined to be at fault.

Fire, CLimate Change, California, fossil fuels
Firefighters battle a wildfire as it threatens to jump a street near Oroville, California. VOA

The company said in a statement that despite Thursday’s finding, PG&E “still faces extensive litigation, significant potential liabilities and a deteriorating financial situation.”

Gov. Gavin Newson said it’s up to PG&E to decide whether to move ahead with a planned bankruptcy given that more than half of its expected damages stemmed from the 2017 Tubbs Fire.

He said his goal is not to rescue PG&E but to make sure victims are made whole, that the state has “safe, reliable and affordable service” and that rate payers “are not paying the price of the neglect” that has been established in past wildfires.

Newsom also said he doubts the report will end litigation related to the wildfire.

Michael Kelly, an attorney for victims of the fire, said the findings wouldn’t have much effect on the lawsuits he has filed.

“We’re going to stick by our guns,” Kelly said, adding that there are still questions about why PG&E didn’t cut power to the area despite a high fire danger. He said there is also evidence that contradicts the findings of state fire investigators.

California, Fire prevention, wildfires
A firefighter sprays the smoldering remains of a vehicle on Interstate 5 as the Delta Fire burns in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, VOA

Reform, compensation

Trading of PG&E Corp. stock was halted twice after news about the cause of the fire prompted a surge of buy orders. Once trading resumed, the price rocketed up, closing up $5.96, or nearly 75 percent, at $13.35 a share.

A state senator said that just because a private electric line caused the wine country fire does not let the utility off the hook for the role of its equipment in other devastating fires in the state.

State Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat, cited system-wide issues plaguing California’s largest utility.

Lawmakers are under pressure to find a solution that addresses utility reform and compensates wildfire victims.

Also Read: urance Claims From California’s Wildfire At $9 Billion

“This underscores the idea that we all have a role to play in wildfire prevention,” said Dodd a frequent critic of PG&E, who noted that the company has already been found at fault for more than a dozen other Northern California wildfires.

In the report released Thursday by the state, one witness reported seeing a transformer explode. Another reported seeing the fire approach a PG&E power pole.

One witness, Charlie Brown Jr. of Calistoga, said the electrical wiring leading from the property where investigators concluded the fire started had not been used in years. (VOA)