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May 6

Society Adventures: The Mosaic Tile House of Venice Beach

article-imageFence of the Mosaic Tile House (all photographs by the author)

Back in May, the LA Obscura Society arranged for a tour of the of a rainbow-hued local gem in Venice — The Mosaic Tile House. Venice Beach is known for its boardwalk filled with colorful eccentric people. The houses, buildings, and structures that dot this area also reflect this “rainbow coalition” of people. From simple beach bungalows to ultramodern homes, Venice is truly a unique place to live. But none of these places quite capture the effervescent essence of Venice like the Mosaic Tile House. 

article-imageCo-creator and docent, Cheri Pann, welcoming the Obscura Society to her ‘humble’ abode; You might need to sit down and rest a little to recover from the sensory overload you will experience

Though it’s not well known to the public, the moment you enter this large-scale artwork-in-progress, it’s like walking inside a coral reef. Most of the tiles are in the red, yellow, and orange spectrum, but bold colors radiate throughout. Almost every square inch of the home (including the outside) is covered in mosaic tiles. Cheri Pann and Gonzalo, a husband and wife team, are responsible for this local masterpiece. Cheri herself was the docent for the Obscura Society’s tour of the place.

article-imageSections not completely covered in tile yet are instead covered in bright hues and paintings

Cheri and Gonzalo’s “visual feast” began as a weekend project which developed into a lifetime love affair surpassing 19 years. Cheri is an artist who creates contemplative large-scale oil paintings with mythic themes, and Gonzalo, canvases in vignettes of their life together. 

article-imageEvery front porch can only dream it they looked as fabulous as this

For the house, Cheri creates the tiles, and Gonzalo shatters them and distributes them over every square inch of their home. Since 1994, the couple has been transforming their once bland, beige stucco home into the structural kaleidoscope that exists today. The Mosaic Tile House is still a work in process since there are still sections where it has not yet been completely covered in tiles, but what is completed is more than enough to give the average person a visual overload. What caught my attention was a fruit tree and vegetable garden incorporated into all the tile landscaping, and a black fridge stuffed with dolls that Cheri described as the dark part of her imagination.

article-imageNot everything is rainbow brite. The black fridge filled with doll parts is an expression of Cheri’s dark side.

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The house is not only a residence but also serves as a studio for the two artists who live there

article-imageA peep through the elaborate wrought ironwork to get a glimpse of the rainbow spectacle within

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If you have ever visited Gaudi’s park in Barcelona, then the Venice Mosaic Tile House will be reminiscent of it.

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The other side of the house that isn’t completely covered in tile-work… yet.

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Most sides of houses tend to be drab and undecorated, but certainly not this house.

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Plain white tiled bathrooms are so yesterday. Color is always en vogue at the Mosaic Tile House.

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Can you imagine cooking a dish in this humble kitchen?

So if you ever find yourself visiting Venice, once you have had your fill of Abbot Kinney and the Boardwalk, head east a mile or so, and visit the Mosaic Tile House. Please note you must call the number listed on their website in advance to arrange for a guided tour with Cheri.

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The Obscura Society is the real-world exploration arm of Atlas Obscura We seek out secret histories, unusual access, and opportunities for our community to explore strange and overlooked places hidden all around us. Join us on our next adventure!

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