HOUS December 2012 : Page 88

88 | the loop | home map quest Chocolate-hued den walls are set with antique maps, including a hand-drawn original from the Lewis and Clark expedition. Yours, Mine & Ours A pair of art-loving community leaders merge their lives—and art collections—with lovely results. | By Chris Kelly | Photography by Laurie Perez | The sun is shining, the temperature is in the 70s, and there’s a light breeze. Art League Houston President Cara Pauloski Rudelson and her new husband, former Art League President Michael Rudelson, are enjoying it from their backyard cabana, sipping Champagne, and glancing at a lily pond with a waterfall and 40 exotic koi fish. “The fish beg for food like Rotweillers,” jokes Michael. “And when we were recently in Europe, we got a call that there was a ‘koi emergency.’ The pump in our pond had stopped. So, we got on top of that.” What they’ve also gotten on top of since their marriage nine months ago is combining their individual art collections— and adding new eclectic pieces—with spectacular results. From the outside, the couple’s white-brick West U traditional looks every bit the way it did when it debuted in the 1940s. But inside, things are a little different. Mainly because now it’s home to a joint collection that includes Murano art glass objects, post-Impressionism paintings, cutting-edge contemporary pieces, antiquities, and what Cara describes as “freaky mosaics.” It’s not surprising that art brought Cara and Michael together. The petite and friendly Cara and the tall, lean and outgoing Michael met while donating their time to Art League Houston—a nonprofit that cultivates awareness, appreciation and accessibility of contemporary art. And they share the same philosophy when it comes to collecting. “Art as an investment is not relevant,” says Michael. Cara adds, “We bought what we liked before we were a couple, and now that we’re married, our agreement is to buy pieces that we both like.” There’s an arty “wow factor” mixed with comfy furnishings and settings, which are important since Cara, 39, and Michael, 55, have six children between them, with the three youngest—ages 8, 11 and 14—living with them. “Our home is a hangout for the neighborhood kids,” says Michael. “Sometimes we come home to find a neighborhood kid who’s just sitting there all alone watching TV in the living room and asking us, ‘What’s for dinner?’” So the newlyweds had to face a design challenge. How do you furnish a home to be kid-friendly and low-maintenance while still creating a suitable backdrop for one of the most interesting art collections in Houston? Cara, a consultant to various nonprofits, and Michael, an investment adviser and also the chairman of the board of HIV/AIDS community services organization Bering Omega, recruited designer Ariana Smetana of the ArtVia firm to help. The home took shape beautifully. A watercolor painting created in 1926 continued… | December 2012

The Loop Home

Chris Kelly

Yours, Mine & Ours<br /> <br /> A pair of art-loving community leaders merge their lives—and art collections—with lovely results.<br /> <br /> The sun is shining, the temperature is in the 70s, and there’s a light breeze. Art League Houston President Cara Pauloski Rudelson and her new husband, former Art League President Michael Rudelson, are enjoying it from their backyard cabana, sipping Champagne, and glancing at a lily pond with a waterfall and 40 exotic koi fish.<br /> <br /> “The fish beg for food like Rotweillers,” jokes Michael. “And when we were recently in Europe, we got a call that there was a ‘koi emergency.’ The pump in our pond had stopped. So, we got on top of that.” What they’ve also gotten on top of since their marriage nine months ago is combining their individual art collections— and adding new eclectic pieces—with spectacular results.<br /> <br /> From the outside, the couple’s white-brick West U traditional looks every bit the way it did when it debuted in the 1940s. But inside, things are a little different. Mainly because now it’s home to a joint collection that includes Murano art glass objects, post- Impressionism paintings, cutting-edge contemporary pieces, antiquities, and what Cara describes as “freaky mosaics.” <br /> <br /> It’s not surprising that art brought Cara and Michael together. The petite and friendly Cara and the tall, lean and outgoing Michael met while donating their time to Art League Houston—a nonprofit that cultivates awareness, appreciation and accessibility of contemporary art. And they share the same philosophy when it comes to collecting. “Art as an investment is not relevant,” says Michael. Cara adds, “We bought what we liked before we were a couple, and now that we’re married, our agreement is to buy pieces that we both like.” <br /> <br /> There’s an arty “wow factor” mixed with comfy furnishings and settings, which are important since Cara, 39, and Michael, 55, have six children between them, with the three youngest—ages 8, 11 and 14—living with them. “Our home is a hangout for the neighborhood kids,” says Michael. “Sometimes we come home to find a neighborhood kid who’s just sitting there all alone watching TV in the living room and asking us, ‘What’s for dinner?’” <br /> <br /> So the newlyweds had to face a design challenge. How do you furnish a home to be kid-friendly and low-maintenance while still creating a suitable backdrop for one of the most interesting art collections in Houston? Cara, a consultant to various nonprofits, and Michael, an investment adviser and also the chairman of the board of HIV/AIDS community services organization Bering Omega, recruited designer Ariana Smetana of the ArtVia firm to help. The home took shape beautifully.<br /> <br /> A watercolor painting created in 1926 By Paul Signac, the French neoimpressionistist who, working with Georges Seurat, helped develop the pointillist style, hangs in the entrance. It is a dream of a pont in Paris that Michael and Cara have visited, where lovers have left padlocks on the bridge to signify their commitment to each other.<br /> <br /> In one corner of the entrance hall stands a rare, graceful, oversized hand-blown glass vase with iridescent swirls of deep blue and green—and a dramatic story! Michael purchased the piece during a trip to New Orleans right before Katrina. “He was on the last Continental Airlines flights out of New Orleans before the hurricane hit,” says Cara. A few months later Michael heard from the store where he had picked out the urn and was told that it had survived the massive storm.<br /> <br /> An archway and dark hardwood floors lead from the foyer into a light-blue-gray-painted living room that is airy and light-filled with a set of French doors that open to the backyard. The family-centric place has a pool table and a group of chairs and a cozy sofa grouped around a stone fireplace. And, of course, more art—such as a painting by Louisiana artist George Rodrigue, and a sculpture by Italian glass master Antonio Seguso.<br /> <br /> The color palette in the separate dining room goes rich and reflective with walls a glossy marine blue and a large, round antique table, with chairs by Baker from the Meredith O’Donnell collection. “This is a democratic table,” says Michael, “Nobody sits at the head, and everyone is equal.” A key art piece here might make you thirsty. In a white shadow box of sorts, more than 900 miniature goblets fashioned from European candy wrappers are arranged on a series of tiny shelves.<br /> <br /> The next room over is the den, with walls saturated in chocolate brown paint. The intimate space is decorated with antiques and maps that Michael has collected. Among many treasures, there’s a framed map of The New World dated 1552, and a world globe created in 1813 for King George III of England. There are also two framed Italian mosaic paintings from Florence. At first glance, they look like oil paintings on canvas, but when you look closely you realize that these sublime landscapes are actually composed of amazingly tiny tiles.<br /> <br /> All told, the couple’s eclectic collection ends up feeling personal, intimate and right at home—which is exactly as they wanted it. “Nothing is calculated,” says Cara. “It’s all about our emotional response.”

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