Fall Issue Shows Value of Being Prepared

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A wide variety of tasty topics can be found in the fall issue of CA-Modern magazine.

The writers, editors, and photographers behind CA-Modern magazine pride ourselves on providing variety in each issue, with articles ranging from serious to light and how-to to historical. Still, in the fall ’19 issue of our quarterly print magazine, you may come away with a useful lesson: It helps to be prepared for the future by learning from the past.

Ethan Stern, who is profiled in ‘Cold Cold Art,’ a glass artist whose work is decidedly modern, achieves his effects because of his deep knowledge of the history of the modern Studio Glass Movement and of glass artists going back at least to Renaissance Venice.

Ethan makes tabletop sculptures that might suggest Antarctica seen from a blimp; or a flattened, over-sized, upright egg incised with lively Op Art-like arrangements of lines, swirls, and checkerboards.

“I have always tried to have a good grasp on the history of glassmaking, from the ancient times through the glass factories to Studio Glass,” Ethan says. “I want to take that history, and still have an original voice.”

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Glass artist Ethan Stern creates amazing objects that suggest geography and are informed by the history of glassmaking. Photo: Adriene Biondo

He created that voice in part because of inspiration supplied by his grandmother, who’d owned an old-fashioned set of crystal which he inherited. “Nobody else in the family wanted the collection, so her crystal has been in my studio since,” he has said.

He ended up acquiring the tools needed to produce such old-fashioned glass – but used them to do something surprisingly modern!

Also benefiting from an interest in the past is the neighborhood of Fairglen, in San Jose. This Eichler tract from the late 1950s and early 1960s has kept its own history alive throughout its existence. It is profiled in ‘Razing the Roof.’

For years neighbors ran a fabulous art festival, then segued into smaller events and more informal social events once that festival grew too big for the neighborhood to handle. Memories of the festival, though, have remained, cementing the idea that Fairglen is some place special.

Social get-togethers mean that people know each other and share that sense of history. And that helped a lot when neighbors sought to place their tract on the National Register of Historic Places. Almost no one opposed the plan – and Fairglen was granted this important designation in early   2019.

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Xavier Cohen points to the flat roof of his home in San Jose's Fairglen, where preservation is valued. When he bought the home  it had ugly attic addition he's happy to say is long gone. Photo: Sabrina Huang

Love for Eichler homes is a multigenerational thing in Fairglen. About the homes, second generation resident Ella Garfunkel said, “We talk about it, and we care about it,” she said of preserving the homes.

In ‘Escape from the Bay,’ we encounter another, different form of being prepared – being prepared to change your plans as circumstances intervene. Wouldn’t every fan of mid-century modern architecture love to live in a big, glassy Eichler home in Palo Alto? You bet.

But can all these folks afford one, at, say, $2 million? No. Price is one circumstance that can cause people to rethink their plans.

That’s why Nancy Rosellini and Glynn Owens, who were living in a pleasant 1926 bungalow in Oakland and hoping to buy an Eichler, decided instead to move to Sacramento to buy a mid-century modern home that had been built by the Streng Brothers.

The affordability of the home was important, Nancy says. “We refused to make a stupid decision. We didn’t want to be mortgage poor. It led us here.”

And living in their Streng home is no sacrifice. “Oh, my goodness,” Nancy says. "There are no numbers on the scale to say how much we enjoy waking up in our beautiful home, surrounded by our mid-century modern furniture, each piece with its own story. Because when you collect pieces, they all come with a story.”

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Nancy Rosellini and Glynn Owens enjoy life in their stylish Streng home. Photo: Guinevere Cameron

One story you may not want to hear starts with a deep rumble and a shake. In ‘Quake Up Call,’ we consider one very serious form of preparation – for earthquakes. Be advised to learn from the past – earthquakes have struck areas filled with Eichler and other mid-century modern homes and will do so again.

Since mid-century homes were not built with current building and safety codes, most seismic professionals today advise Eichler owners to consider reinforcing five areas of the home: floor-to-ceiling windows, the post-and-beam system, masonry fireplaces/chimneys, roof, and water heater.

“It’s a challenge with Eichlers,” says Joshua Carter, a project engineer with Sezen & Moon Structural Engineering, who has engineered many Eichler projects. “You want to keep that look, but what you need to do is antithetical to their construction. You can start with a thorough investigation of the structure to properly assess it.”

Owners are also urged to be prepared for periods of post-quake time without power or food or water – unless these have been stockpiled. Also, do you have a plan for re-uniting the family? And, if you own some of Ethan Stern’s beautiful glass art, have you affixed it to the shelf with museum putty?

If you don't already get the print issue of CA-Modern delivered to your mailbox, click here to order. Meanwhile, here's the flip-book edition of the entire issue for your immediate artistic and literary enjoyment.

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'Quake Up Call' provides useful information for Eichler owners in California's quake country.

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