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Richard, Diane and Emilio Nares

The approaching month of September has for several reasons plunged me into the depths of nostalgia. One of those reasons is a coming event: the 11th Annual Harvest for Hope.

But let me start at the beginning. It was in September 1979 that the first issue of San Diego Home/Garden was published. It also was 1979 when a fine-art framing shop named J. Dewers opened in downtown San Diego. The shop’s original owner was Walter Drucker, who also was a photographer and lover of fine-art prints.

As good fortune would have it, when the SDH/G magazine offices moved to Fourth and G in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter in 1980, I started working for the magazine and J. Dewers was a block away at Fourth and Market. On any given day on my lunch hour, I could wander over to J. Dewers and leaf through the fine-art prints and chat with Walter, which greatly enhanced my knowledge of print collecting.

Over the course of years, it also resulted in my buying a few from him. I even had some precious paintings that I, one by one, entrusted to him to frame. His taste was exquisite.

It was during those visits, over many months and years, that I met Richard Nares, a painter who started working for Walter at the frame shop in 1985. My then editor, Peter Jensen, and I would sometimes give walking tours of the Gaslamp Quarter, highlighting interesting galleries and architecture and occasionally taking a tour through an artist’s downtown live/work loft.

This was a very hip way for artists to afford a place to live and a working studio downtown in those days. We hoped that showing them off to the public would help sell their art.

I remember one time Richard allowed us to put his tiny bachelor pad on the tour, and I was deeply moved by his paintings.

Our lives evolved. Richard met Diane Cappetta in 1993, married her the next year and eventually they moved with their baby son, Emilio, to a home in Mission Hills. Another tour I was on brought me to their Mission Hills garden, and it was so good to see the happy family.

Walter sold the frame business and moved to San Francisco. More time passed, and the dark side of life took over. Emilio was diagnosed with cancer and, at the age of 3, died.

It was two years later that I saw this couple turn their heartache and loss into one of those humble but eloquent campaigns, Harvest for Hope, to provide for other parents and their cancer-stricken children. Harvest for Hope provides the most basic need: a ride to the cancer treatment location for those without transportation.

I have watched Richard and Diane continue to raise money and transform lives by giving and running marathons and working and caring for others. By 2008, President Obama was honoring Richard as one of the all-stars among us. CNN called him one of the top 10 heroes in 2013. He and Diane are on my list of saints.

Back to the 11th Annual Harvest for Hope fundraiser, which I guarantee is a fabulous food and funfest with some of San Diego’s best chefs participating. Brooklyn Girl, Café Chloe and Croce’s Park West, Pamplemousse, A.R. Valentien and JSix are just a few of them.

I’ll be there!

Phyllis Van Doren

Harvest for Hope
1-4 p.m., Sept. 7
San Diego Wine and Culinary Center
200 Harbor Drive
Information and tickets: and


Photograph by Carol Sonstein

THERE'S NOTHING LIKE CHAMPAGNE, sumptuous hors d’oeuvres, jazz and a gaggle of interior designers and architects— and even a few toddlers and babes in arms — to make a party. Last Thursday, such an evening at C’est la Vie Antiques was a hit. Architect Drex Patterson attended, as did many designers, including Amy Meier, Robin Eisman, Elizabeth Thiele Barkett and Cindy Lambert — the occasion being that one of my favorite designers, Jeffrey Alan Marks, has just published his first design book and agreed to come that night to talk about it. The Meaning of Home (Rizzoli New York) is a subject dear to our hearts.

I am so proud of Jeffrey, rather like a mother hen, having known him for the better part of 20 years.

Until its ignoble demise after 2006, I had produced the Designers Showcase feature for San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles every year since the 1980s. I met Jeffrey at the 1997 Designers Showcase house in Mission Hills.

His “room” was a hallway, elevator and wine closet — small. I wrote, “Using fabric and paint and a touch of Fortuny … and a Rose Tarlow chair, … Marks reveals his knowledge of the classics but is up to date.” He had a style that caught my eye from the beginning.

By 1998 in the Coronado showcase, he’d graduated to the slightly larger den as his space. “Unafraid of color, his wall treatment is inspired … a quintessential, sun-splashed California room,” I noted. More Tarlow, a lamp this time. I always enjoyed how he brought in "with-it" designers from Los Angeles or beyond that other local design firms didn’t seem aware of. He’s still doing that — if he isn’t designing the pieces himself.

In 1999, I wrote that Jeffrey’s “daring projects speak volumes about sophistication and European style.” By 2000, he had the largest room of the showcase: the living room of a Monterey-style house. He was inspired to look back at Frances Elkins (the perfect choice); he wasn’t too proud to reference great designers of the past. By this time, he got credit for designing furniture too.

Before he left La Jolla for Santa Monica, SDH/GL published two stories on his own homes — a cottage in Del Mar and a house across from the golf fairway in La Jolla. Since then, we've offered occasional reports of his work, up to the inclusion of him in our Fall Interior Design Report (October 2013 issue).

Now working on a world stage (when not on television or in a national magazine) Jeffrey is finishing up a fishing lodge in the jungles of Belize, showed a second collection for Palecek furniture at last month’s High Point Market and, coming this spring, is debuting a line of fabrics for Kravet.

I’m sure there’s more I don’t know, though on Thursday he hinted at a new television show and a new Mandeville Canyon project. We hope for more interiors in the San Diego area. The magazine and I will be sure to let you in on the latest.

Phyllis Van Doren


Photo courtesy of Howard Hall Productions

Sharks would not be my normal area of interest for television viewing of an evening. More likely, they’d be the experience of a horrifying nightmare. I’d be more inclined to watch CSPAN2 BookTV or a documentary on a comedian like Billy Crystal or musician like Errol Garner to relax.

But when I heard it announced that a film by underwater photographers and filmmakers Michele and Howard Hall was coming up on KPBS’ Nature Wednesday night, for a very personal reason, I duly noted it in my calendar. It was the Halls I wanted to see, even if the program frighteningly was called Shark Mountain.

Just recently, I met and interviewed the Halls at their Del Mar home and studio, an encounter that opened my eyes and a store of facts to a whole world apart from my own. I was absolutely mesmerized by their achievements and totally in awe of how anyone could go as deep underwater as they do, hauling around equipment and cavorting with apparent dangers. The creatures, colors and textures beneath the water’s surface are truly another world that so many of us have never entered, with a sensual, ethereal beauty that’s hard to fathom. (See SDH/GL’s June issue, for my story on the Halls.)

Shark Mountain turned out to be a fascinating television hour well spent, sort of “behind the scenes” with the diving filmmakers. It was visually beautiful, instructive, paced with a little humor and undeniably championed care for the wonders of our environment. I’m going to give it a second view ( for repeats), though you won’t find me swimming with the sharks anytime soon.

Phyllis Van Doren

CorsetII AHart11

A RELAXED CONVERSATION with owner Mario Scolari about his Nativa Furniture stores also included chat about the pope and soccer and tennis stars, all from his native Argentina. Front-burner news was that Nativa had taken over the old Kreiss location at Girard Avenue and Silverado Street in La Jolla and should have it fully stocked as a home design destination by the time this issue of the magazine is out. Sadly, that also may mean closing of the Hillcrest store. But, at press time, Mario indicated he still might reimagine one of his dreams for that historic building.

CALIFORNIA CLOSETS has joined the design renaissance along Girard Avenue with its new showroom and design center. Another showroom on the move is Yorkshire Pine. Relocating from Santa Fe Street to Morena Boulevard, they’ll be in the heart of design again. Kristin Lomauro’s design firm, KLID, and her European Trading Co. showroom, however, stay on Santa Fe Street in Janine Brown’s old design space. Meanwhile, Esteban Interiors is closing its retail space and staying on Girard Avenue with a more private design studio, in case
you wondered where the art glass went.

A MORNING I spent in Zandra Rhodes’ Solana Beach studio found her flying off to London for a 10th anniversary show of the Fashion & Textile Museum, now run by Newham College. We saw installation models and dresses that were ready to be packed when Zandra boards another flight for Kuala Lumpur for a retrospective show in Malaysia.

DON’T EVEN THINK of missing the exhibits of Ernest Silva (recently retired from UCSD) and Jay Johnson at Oceanside Museum of Art. The show closes Sept. 15. Opening night in July was truly a Who’s Who of artists and gallery owners. I hitched a ride with Dory and Steve Gibson. Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego had just acquired five of Steve’s paintings, 2004 to present, that went on view in its downtown galleries. The Allied Craftsmen Today show at Mingei International Museum is another must-see. It is up through the end of the year.

REESEY SHAW hosted her annual lunch and sneak-peek of artists to come for 2013/2014 at Lux Art Institute. Matthew Cusick is in the studio creating his work from Sept. 5 through Oct. 5. Reesey also showed plans for the new Education Pavilion designed by Anne Sneed Architectural Interiors.

Eeny, meeny, miney more….Pick your favorite color from hundreds. Devon & Devon of Florence, Italy, colors its cast iron Regal bathubs in 213 hues of matte paint. At Lav-ish, The Bath Gallery in La Jolla.

OCEAN BEACH’S Vignettes celebrates its 18th anniversary on Sept. 28 with Claudia Strasser, signing her book Paris Flea Market Style (July Hot Finds & Cool Stuff).

AFTER MORE THAN 40 years, George Coles, long the friendly face of Coles Fine Flooring family business, is retiring and passing the family torch to brother Steve and Steve’s daughter Lauren. I’m sure all the dogs and cats at the Humane Society (one of George’s favorite causes) are looking forward to more time with Uncle George.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, interior designer Robert Wright was honored with the Designer of Distinction Award at the 2013 ASID National Conference. We already knew he was great; we made him a Star of San Diego in 2010.

Photo Above: Alexandra Hart, Corset II, 2013, copper at Mingei International Museum

Design Riffs: By Phyllis Van Doren

Readers-Choice 2014



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Having predominantly spent my formative years in the Midwest, the opportunities to go surfing were so few and far between that they were, essentially, nonexistent. The closest I got to the sport was watching Gidget movies at the drive-in.

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