LIFE AS AN ARTIST BEGAN INAUSPICIOUSLY ENOUGH:

Pann started life in the projects in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.

At an early age she began drawing and coloring everything within her reach, but her mom, knowing only about the performing arts, proceeded to send her to piano, dancing, and acting lessons. In her late teens, she went to see a Vincent Van Gogh exhibit, stood in front of his paintings, said "I'm an artist!", and has never looked back. For the next few years she went to UCLA where she studied printmaking, then subsequently apprenticed herself to the printmaker Don LaViere Turner, and took additional printmaking classes at USC. Later, at Cal State L.A., she immersed herself in drawing and ceramics, eventually earning an Masters in Fine Art.

From the late sixties to the mid-nineties, Pann had more than 20 solo exhibitions in California and Japan, as well as having been in more than 50 group shows.

For over two decades, a portion of each year was spent traveling throughout Europe and Asia, living in Japan, France, and Hawaii for periods of four to fifteen months at a time.

Since the mid-nineties she has exhibited exclusively in her live/work studio in Venice, CA., where she is continuously at work painting in oil, building mural-sized constructions which are political commentaries, and creating vessels, functional items, & tiles out of stoneware clay. Her tiles have found their way into the mosaics decorating her home like a Gaudi or the Watts Towers, as well as numerous private commissions, all jointly executed with her husband, Gonzalo Duran.

Born in Mexico, raised in East L.A., the son of a shoemaker, Gonzalo Duran came to the U.S. at an early age.

He attended Otis Art Institute and Chouinard Art School. The world of Gonzalo is a fanciful place, peopled with characters, half-fable, half-fact. He has been called the Marc Chagall of the North and Central Americas. His brilliant, sometimes startling palette, complements his unbounded imagination.

Duran's career has been followed and his works have been acquired by many collectors throughout the U. S. and Mexico.

About Us

Cheri & Gonzalo by fountain on front porch                        © photo by Ken Hively

text  by Michael Webb                                                photo by Juergen Nogai

from     VENICE, CA      Art & Architecture  in a Maverick Community      published  by Abrams  2007

Our friends Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran have been creating the Mosaic Tile House in Venice California for over a decade. Both of them are accomplished painters and ceramic artists.  In their early 60’s, they’re still crazy about each other in a way that’s truly inspiring. Cheri and Gonzalo go salsa dancing on Wednesday nights with the shoes and the twirly flared-out skirts and the whole nine yards.  Cheri was married once before, or maybe twice, or, well, whatever – she got it right this time.  Gonzalo had eluded marriage altogether until one day when they were bike riding in the San Gabriel Valley, they passed some odd little church that announced it did marriages once a week.  They thought it was funny, and one thought led to another. 


I remember watching them on their bicycle built for two one Sunday, Cheri in the back in her black spandex and hot pink streamers coming out of the handlebars and Gonzalo with his mysterious smile and twinkling eyes, pedaling for both of them along a dry, L.A. riverbed. Just then we passed a dusty Mexican rodeo, plunked in the middle of modest suburban homes – a rodeo complete with bulls and wild horses and men in big hats practicing moves with their lariats underneath a faded Tecate banner.  Some might see Cheri and Gonzalo as unlikely a couple as bikers and cowboys, but somehow with these two, it works!


Theirs is the house where I go to mosaic a couple times a week when I’m in town.  It’s an amazing oasis of color and tongue-in-cheek kookiness, with the outdoor hot tub framed by Watts Towers-like structures of color, glints of mirror and cheeky porcelain kitsch swirling in a sea of turquoise through the sky with lacy bits of chayote vine trailing behind like a verdant comet.  They’ve built a huge space onto their house that accommodates both a ceramic studio and room for their large, wildly beautiful paintings.  As artists, they often reference each other’s work.  They riff off of themes and tangents until the creative energy vibrates with Cheri’s intense reds and Gonzalo’s saucy visual treatises.  This individual and collaborative artwork covers absolutely everything that’s not nailed down – and some of the things that are including the bathroom ceiling and the kitchen table. 


But the most inspiring of all to me is the relationship they have, the life they’ve built -- quirky and brave, colorful and funny and solid as a rock.  The Mosaic Tile House is the audacious geography of Cheri and Gonzalo’s partnership   It is a partnership and a place that somehow manage to balance life’s absurdities with its abundant potential for creative expression. It honors what appears in our path and on our doorsteps each and every day -- the things precious and mundane, quirky or profane.  I leave their mosaic kingdom each time reminded that life provides us that rich soup so often, and it’s our decision to pass it up or lick the bowl clean.  I’m more than grateful for the reminder.


Cinder Hypki

A letter from Cinder Hypki