OJAI STRONG

Ojai, California has long been a magical escape for Angelenos, who flock to this small valley town, encircled by orange groves and mountains, to find solace and inspiration. Lately, a number of creatives have been planting permanent roots, attracted to the region’s bucolic surroundings and the tight-knit community. Now, as residents are in the process of rebuilding their beloved town after the devastating Thomas Fire, we shine a light on some of the locals contributing to Ojai’s dynamic scene.

INTO THE DEEP

Director Allen Hughes finds newfound inspiration— as well as his artistic voice—in his slice of paradise.

When you come from Detroit, California holds a certain mysticism. Hollywood—even the idea of Hollywood—can put stars in the eyes of any Midwesterner,” says writer, director and producer Allen Hughes. Raised by a single mother who started out on welfare, he and his twin bother, Albert, blossomed into the directing duo the Hughes Brothers, known for such hard-hitting dramas as Menace II Society, The Book of Eli, American Pimp and Dead Presidents. Now, after a four-year hiatus that included breaking away from his brother and moving to Ojai, Allen is making waves on his own

with The Defiant Ones, the critically-acclaimed four-part HBO docuseries about the lives of music legends Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine.

 

Looking back on his life, Hughes can’t help but be amazed. “My mother went from welfare to being an independent millionaire,” he says proudly of Aida, who left her native Iran when she was young, put herself through school and eventually opened a vocational rehabilitation firm in Pomona, just east of Los Angeles. “She’s the most visionary woman ever, a boss bitch who won’t be denied.” Because they were twins, it was decided that Allen and Albert might have a shot in the acting business. “We did the Oscar Mayer weiner and Coca-Cola commercials, but we were terrible! By 1980, we figured out that the brothers would not be the next Double Mint twins,” he says.

 

To keep them occupied, Aida bought Allen and Albert a video camera when they were 12 years old, and they never looked back. They dropped out of high school and began directing music videos. By 20, the Hughes Brothers made their first feature film, 1993’s Menace II Society, which launched their careers. Focused on black, disenfranchised youth, the groundbreaking film included then up-andcomers Jada Pinkett Smith and Samuel L. Jackson, and was made on a minuscule budget of $3.5 million.

 

“The first time I traveled to Ojai, I went to an art festival with my mother. She’s a painter,” Hughes recalled. “I had just finished Menace II Society. I had a two-year-old son, and I was very uncomfortable with the attention that I was getting and the way I was being spoiled, as a director with some success. When I discovered Ojai and Lake Casitas, I found I could just go fishing and find peace. I felt safe there; it was like being held to a bosom.”

 

For years, though, it never occurred to the director that he could actually live in Ojai, as he didn’t know anyone there. “When I was shooting The Book of Eli, actor Malcolm McDowell had a role in the film, and he was a long-time Ojai resident,” Hughes says. “Malcolm and his wife took me under their wing and I was welcomed into the community. I realized that I could have a real life here in Ojai.” He made the decision to permanently move this past spring.

 

The peaceful town has served as an idyllic place for Hughes to reflect on The Defiant Ones, which took him three-and-a-half years to complete and was released to much fanfare in July. The documentary follows the separate career trajectories of legendary record producer Iovine—the son of a Brooklyn longshoreman—and rap icon Dre—who grew up on the streets of Compton, California. It shows how their lives eventually came together from such vastly different worlds, changing the cultural landscape in the process, and culminating with the brokerage of one of the biggest deals in music history: the sale of Beats by Dre to Apple. “One of my editors, early on, said to me, “If you do a documentary right, it can change you as a person forever,” Hughes shares. “This project really did change me; it was an evolution, a discovery process and a very emotional journey. I am changed for life—for one reason, being so intimate with Dre and Jimmy—because those guys are intense. This work pushed out bad habits that I had. I’d made a film about obsessive artists and I am obsessive.” The fast-paced film is full of candid interviews with Iovine, Dre, Bono, David Geffen, Eminem, Ice Cube, Gwen Stefani, Jon Landau, Snoop Dogg, Bruce Springsteen, and the late Tom Petty includes never-before-seen footage from a multitude of recording and writing sessions. “Additionally, I realized I had never fully processed Eazy-E’s and Tupac’s deaths—they were close friends of mine,” he says. “ Making this film made me

see the whole picture; how the world works. I realized that I needed to get my shit together and settle it with the insecure demons that allow a person to wallow in mediocrity.”

 

The series has already garnered Hughes multiple accolades, including the prize for Best Limited Series at the December IDA Documentary Awards and a Grammy nomination for Best Music Film. “I never thought I could do a project that I could be happy with,” he says. “I finally got my voice back, which I had lost being part of the Hughes Brothers. I got my life back and then finally moved to Ojai.”

MIX AND MATCH

Anna and Kirk Nozaki inject Ojai’s craft scene with a modern dose of fun.

By definition, Cattywampus implies something not arranged correctly, but walk into Anna and Kirk Nozaki’s craft store in Ojai and you’ll find a neatly arranged, curated almost to a fault, cave of wonderment.

Filled with rich visual and tactile treats, Cattywampus Crafts is what happens when take you a pair of creatives from Silver Lake and transport them to California’s Shangri-La. “It is our collective goal to inspire,” says Anna, whose background is in graphic design. “It is as simple as that.” It’s their shared desire to tap into everyone’s latent, artistic feelings and talents, no matter how deep, in some instances, they may be buried.

The couple made the move to Ojai in 2013, mainly to raise their daughter away from the city. When they arrived, they wanted to contribute to their new community. Their way of giving back was to establish a craft store that not only sells beautiful wares and materials for makers, but also serves as somewhat of a creative community center. They hold classes in all sorts of crafting modalities—especially popular is the Wednesday knight knit group. The Nozakis also host many sessions taught by local artists, such as macramé maker Sally England and fiber virtuosa Carol Shaw Sutton.

Everything in Cattywampus is influenced and inspired by Ojai. The ample space is dotted with huge, vintage macramé pieces by Murray Rodkin, as well as jewelry by Tammi Reinhardt. Also on display are works by ceramicist Mark Churchill and Fanny Penny, who makes wall hangings and jewelry with rope and clay. The Nozakis have even begun their own women’s clothing line, as well as one for children, both of which they soon plan to sell in-store.

Kirk, who is a restorer of houses and spent 20 years as a streetwear designer, decorated the interior of Cattywampus, which features soaring ceilings and expansive windows. He designed butcher block furniture for the shop and walls of shelves featuring basketweave patterns for yarn and other storage, which keenly help to keep the interior light and contemporary. “We wanted to keep the space feeling as open and uplifting as possible,” Anna says.

Their desire has been met. The store they have created is a welcoming one, full of warmth and laughter. “Most of our customers are people who are new to crafts,” says Anna, in a moment of quiet reflection. “We did not anticipate the emotional response people have when they learn new things, and tap into their creative spirit.”

SOARING VISION 

Artist Cassandra C. Jones digitizes nature, presenting a complex world far beyond what is immediately noticeable to the naked eye.

 

When asked how she would describe herself, artist Cassandra C. Jones takes a moment. “Okay, I was just working on this earlier today,” she laughs. “Here it is: I am a

photography-based digital artist, focusing on large-scale collage.” It’s a mouthful, but

just scratches at the surface of the experience of being up close to Jones’s work. Her

compositions of meticulously arranged collages illustrate woven patterns, reimagined wildlife, floral arrangements and geometric shapes which have an uncanny way of drawing the viewer into a completely different world.

 

“When I was a child, we had wallpaper in the bathroom that I would stare at, and I could see things that others didn’t,” explains Jones. “Part of my work is wanting others to see the things that I see.”

Jones started out as a photographer. It was not until she was writing her graduate school thesis, while on holiday in Greece with her grandmother, that her focus changed. “It was not the Greece one might imagine,” she says. “It was not the beautiful, white-washed buildings with blue trim. We were staying on an island no one had ever heard of in a dilapidated village, with no young people, where no one spoke English. I was repeatedly sent to the beach.”

Jones admittedly does not idle well; she was going out of her mind with the mounting

stress of having to complete her thesis. She had brought her photography equipment but was resolute that everything on the island had been photographed before. “I was not going to take photographs of old doors for two months!” she laughs.

Unable to find inspiration, or anything that might be conceptually interesting, Jones had

put her cameras under the bed. However, one day lightning struck. “I was suddenly inspired by a line in a Susan Sontag book about how cheesy photographs of sunsets were,” Jones says. “I decided I was going to collect everyone’s sunset photos.”

Her “aha” moment sent Jones on a mission through the village, collecting every villagers’ images of sunsets. Later on, she made a video of the sun setting via the 1,400 photos that she had collected. That video not only became Jones’s thesis, but also became the pre-curser to her present work.

Much of Jones’s recent creations have been about life in Ojai, where she lives with her

musician husband, Mikael Jorgensen, pianist and keyboardist for the band Wilco, and their two small children. Jones’s own mother and father settled on Ojai in 1999, after touring the states in an RV in a quest to find Shangri-La—today it’s not uncommon for them to babysit for their daughter and son-in-law, who moved together to the idyllic town in December 2013.

“My work would be different if I was back in L.A. It would be more about being in the

herd, in the crowd. I couldn’t live in L.A. ever again. It just seems too huge, dealing with

crowds, and of course, the fight to get into the Whole Foods parking lot,” Jones laughs. “The Ojai environment is relaxing, and I love having the quiet.”

Recently, Jones made her largest piece to date—31 feet wide by 18 feet high—a collage

with no repeating pattern, using more than 7,000 photos. It was a commission from the

Wichita Art Museum in Kansas, which wanted a way to display its collection of Steuben glass. Jones photographed the pieces, and brought them into the digital realm.

And in January, Jones will have a wallpaper installation at the new Hotel Revival in

Baltimore. “I was commissioned to make a wallpaper for their open stairwell, based on

Baltimore album quilts. It’s made up of hundreds of digital photographs,” she explains. “I am giving it a contemporary feel by using present-day imagery. Each part of my design tells a story about my life as an artist, traveler, mother and member of the global community.”

PERFECT BALANCE
Longtime Los Angeles resident Anna Getty seeks out a peaceful way of life for herself and her young family.

For philanthropist, cookbook author and film producer Anna Getty and her husband, former pro-skateboarder and DJ Scott Oster, the move to Ojai from Los Angeles was a gradual one.The couple, who were married in Big Sur in 2015, and who have two children together—15-month-old Bodhi and three-year-old Roman, in addition to Getty’s two older children from her previous marriage—initially bought a beautiful home in Upper Ojai nestled amongst 50 acres of orchards to serve as a retreat from their city lives. They were in search of a sense of community and a simpler life for their family. “We would come up to Ojai to hike,” Getty says.“We used to come for weekends. But as of last August, we call Ojai home.”

 

Her love affair with Ojai began nine years ago, amid her travels around California, and grew every time she visited the picturesque valley town. It was during this time that she was invited to a screening of the 2008 documentary, Fuel, an exploration of fuel alternatives by husband-andwife team Josh and Rebecca Tickell, who lived and worked in Ojai. “The film was great,” recalls Getty, who has long been an ambassador for environmental and social change and had previously served as executive producer for the PBS film Food Forward. “I walked right up to them and told them I wanted to be involved in future projects.” Getty got her wish when she took on the executive producer mantle for the couples’ recently released documentary, Kiss the Ground, about how healthy soil can help balance the climate, which is also accompanied by a book of the same title. “Every time I would come up to give my notes on the latest edit, Josh and Rebecca would encourage us to take the plunge and move here,” she says.

 

The modern Mediterranean house that Getty eventually purchased was built by local

architect Catherine Moore, and furnished by Oster, who filled the open layout with rustic natural materials, hearty woods, light colored rugs and soft sheepskin, all in a calming neutral palette. Sometimes, she has learned, it takes a move to the country to appreciate city life. “Now the irony is that I am enjoying L.A .so much more than before,” laughs Getty, who was born in Berlin and moved to Los Angeles as a young child. “Even traffic even has a charm.”

However, it doesn’t seem like Getty will be rushing back to Los Angeles anytime soon. After the devastating Thomas wildfire that took place in Ojai, Getty’s house miraculously still stands, and the disaster has drawn the family even closer to the adopted community that they love, support and now call home. “We have been collecting clothing from our kids’ schools, and reached out to clothing stores, local designers, our own closets and friends,” she says. “We are donating masks, diapers, air purifiers and other needs on a day-to-day basis. But it is a long-term situation. As a family we will support rebuilding our community with love, time, energy and resources.”

WILD MAN 

Justin Bastien has found the ideal place to refuel and recharge in between his constant trips around the world.

Trying to keep up with sportsman, adventurer, director and photographer Justin Bastien might actually be humanly impossible; even reaching him by phone could be considered a sport. “I just wrapped a job that I was shooting in Santiago and took a week off to come up to the Atacama to climb and shoot some pictures for myself,” Bastien says of his current post in San Pedro de Atacama, a small town in Chile’s Atacama Desert, when we finally do connect. “I’m beat.” Somehow I don’t quite believe him, as he talks to me while swinging in a hammock. He sounds extremely energized, not like someone who just scaled am 18,000-foot volcano in 24 hours of straight climbing.

Bastien’s start in photography was directly connected to his love of adventure. An avid rock climber, he was living out of his pickup truck for about 10 years, traveling around the country and occasionally returning to his home just south of Los Angeles to do odd jobs. “I was living this climbing lifestyle, and I’d meet photographers all the time,” he says. “I started going with them on photo shoots and climbed stuff for them. I started traveling the world to help out with these photo shoots and I ended up doing a lot of work with Patagonia.” The photo editor of Patagonia suggested Bastien buy his own camera and document his travels for the outdoor clothing company. These days, his portfolio includes some pretty far-ranging projects—from shooting eagle hunters in Mongolia to documenting NASA astronauts training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to free diving with environmentalist Kimi Werner off the coast of Hawaii—and his list of big-budget clients includes Red Bull, Microsoft and Coors Light.

A recent move to Ojai was fueled by Bastien’s need to find open space and also by the good food he’s discovered at the local farmers market. He and his girlfriend recently bought a house where he can go running, climbing and swimming directly from his front door. “My work is pretty intense so it’s nice to come home and be in nature,” says Bastien, who jokes that his city life these days consists of driving to LAX. “I love the hippie vibe and the small community.”

THE BEAT GOES ON 

Musician Orpheo McCord is making new sounds from his Ojai home studio.

 

Drummer Orpheo McCord is best known for his integral role as the high-energy percussionist and drummer with Grammy Award-winning indie darlings Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. However, his first solo album, Recovery Inhale, which will be released in late January, finds McCord departing from his usual role— providing a rhythm section—and instead opting for a change of pace. “After being on the road for over a decade, performing and recording with Edward Sharpe, it felt cathartic to make an album that was totally free of rhythm and the traditional verse/chorus song structure,” says McCord of his meditative, instrumental album based around the marimba, a xylophone-type percussion instrument from West and Central Africa. 

 

For years, McCord called East Los Angles his home, and was a part of the Echo Park cultural renaissance of the early aughts. “So much artistic collaboration was happening there, with people creating all sorts of art,” says McCord. “There was a real sense of community happening, and magic was in the air. It was such an exciting time for me.”

One can venture that McCord continues to harness the same energy in Ojai, where he decamped with his family in 2011. It was a necessary change of scenery after leading an exciting tour life and traveling the world, or as McCord puts it, being a “full-on road dog.”

McCord recorded Recovery Inhale at his home studio in Ojai (co-produced and mixed by another local, Scott Hirsch). This album feels like an ode to the quieter side of life, mirroring McCord’s environment. “Living in Ojai, I began to give myself permission to free associate, and experiment with sound,” McCord shares. “I naturally needed to calm my own nervous system, so this album was all about creating these luscious tonalities that allow the listener to let go of the daily chatter that inundates us all.”

ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS

Interior designer Paul Fortune and Chris Brock have quickly become Ojai’s most dynamic duo.

 

Since launching his L.A.-based studio in 1982, British-born interior designer Paul

Fortune has become known as one of the city’s go-to talents, with notable clients

that include Marc Jacobs, Sofia Coppola, Dasha Zhukova, Nate Ruess, Charlotte

Ronson and the Sunset Tower Hotel in Hollywood. Fortune’s welcoming and easy-tolive-

in environments, imbued with his signature style and elegance, spills over into his

personal life, too. That inviting feeling is immediately apparent in the house Fortune

shares with his ceramist husband, Chris Brock, and their adored elderly tabby cat, Nelly, in Upper Ojai. With breathtaking views of the famous Topatopa Mountains, their home is not just a place of comfort but a visual feast. Everything is easy on the eye, and not so precious that you are afraid to sit down. In fact all you will want to do is sit down and talk about the world with Ojai’s most fascinating couple.

Brock is calm, soft-spoken and impeccably dressed, and as striking a figure as his

husband. As he welcomes me into his studio—a gutted and transformed vintage

trailer—the cat lazes in a sunny spot in the open doorway, while classical music plays,

giving a sense of calm in this intensely creative space. Brock is enjoying huge success

with his ceramics—oversized, deco-inspired pots finished with gently mottled glazes,

some of which are reminiscent of Ojai’s famed “pink moment,” set against the blue sky.

He sold all pieces in his inaugural show last September at fashion designer Rick Owens’s store in Los Angeles, humbly chalking it up to beginner’s luck. However, it’s obvious there is a lot more involved.

 

“Being an artist is my lifelong desire, one I would have never reached without my

husband,” Brock says, touting Fortune as his biggest influence. “He is the force behind

the power, and he is tough, but he is very honest and he has a great eye and an

impossible standard. I really listened to him and here we are, after only two or three

years.” When Brock first moved to Ojai, he had trained for reiki and wanted to work as

a healer. “But when I got here, I soon realized this town is full of healers and one more

was literally the last thing Ojai needed,” he jokes. “What we need is a Neiman Marcus,”

 

Fortune accidentally discovered Ojai many years ago on his way to Santa Barbara;

he ended up at the Ojai Valley Inn and jumped in the pool. He remembers looking up

at the then-undeveloped mountains when Ojai was just a small, sleepy town, and it

stuck in his head. “It never occurred to me that one day I would be living here,” he

says. “But then we bought land and had a trailer there for weekends. I would come and

stay and I loved it.” Down the street from the land was a house, which the couple

acquired in 2013. A few years later, they received an offer to buy their longtime Laurel

Canyon abode, and made the decision to officially move.

 

“I had lived in that house in Laurel Canyon for about 30 years, and it took about

a year to recover from a nervous breakdown,” Fortune recalls. “We met people in Ojai

and it was fine. Chris never goes back to L.A., but I still have an apartment there for

work, so I kind of keep my toe in the water.” Working in this modern age makes life

easier for Fortune, who laughs about once, when he was sick, doing an installation in

NYC from his bed in Ojai via FaceTime. “I can do everything with my iPhone,” he

says. “In the old days, of course, you couldn’t do that.” Next up, Fortune is working on

a book for Rizzoli, tentatively titled Notes on Décor, Etc. 1978–2018—“I should just

call it Forty Fuckin’ Years of Work,” he jokes— while Brock is creating a new series of

pots inspired by Brutalist architecture.

 

“We are city people in the country and for us, that is the answer,” Brock says of the

couple’s love for their adopted hometown. “We only really go to the opera and when

we go, we make a big fuss about it and dress up and have our go-to-town moment, but

mostly, we don’t leave Ojai.” 

“You don’t need any drugs in Ojai,” Fortune adds with a smile. “Ojai is a drug.”

Urban Cowboys

 

“Cowboy up!” reads a sign at the entrance to the riding arena at Rancho Ohaco.Nestled in the backcountry of Ojai, Jeff Ohaco’s horses roam wide pastures, cows kick up dust in their pens, and a dog slinks outside the fence, keeping a watchful eye on the livestock. It is a different world. One that Ohaco doesn’t mind sharing. “The main goal of our Cowboy School is for people to have fun and get out of the city,” says Ohaco, whose cowboy roots run deep.

 

Mitch Collier and Molly Holm hold on to their hats as they kick up some dust.

 

Born on a working cattle ranch Arizona that has belonged to his family since the 1800s, Ohaco paid his dues as a Hollywood stuntman in his youth. These days, he prefers to spend his time breaking colts, breeding and selling well-bred quarter horses, and lending a hand at ranches during round up and branding time.

 

At his monthly Californio Cowboy School, Ohaco draws on a large circle of talented friends— bronc rider Boone Campbell, the well-known horseman Bruce Sandifer, and leather worker, Chris West—who all share Ohaco’s passion for riding horses and handling livestock. All are profoundly influenced by the historical principles of the Vaqueros, sacred traditions brought to California by the early Spanish settlers. These principles are rooted in classical Spanish riding, which is enjoying wider popularity. Sandifer, who is president of the Californio Bridle Horse Association, shares, “I was raised on ranches my whole life, and this way of riding appeals to me because it is the easiest on the stock.”

 

For Ohaco, the overriding goal is true unity between rider and horse. “If I manage to instill any of the practices and traditions of the Vaquero style of riding, especially the respectful communication and mindfulness needed to work successfully with horses,” Jeff says as he sits by the fire, “it’s been a good day.”

 

The Sweet Life

 

For artist Anna Julien and her daughter, Mia, a rustic ‘20s-era cabin offers a cozy retreat from the big city — and a link to Ojai’s storied past.

“We call our house the ‘Sugar Shack,’” says Anna Julien in her native Aussie twang. An artist and natural beauty, Anna shares the home with her ten-year-old daughter, Mia, and an assortment of small farm animals: goats, bunnies, chickens, and ducks—the “Cute Farm,” Mia calls it. The serenity of the nearby Topa Topa mountains and the nature-filled promise of Ojai lured the pair away from the fray of Los Angeles nearly two years ago.

 

“The moment I stepped onto this property, my whole body language changed. I had such an intense feeling about being here,” Anna says of her first visit to the storied cabin, built in 1921, and adjoining dance studio (added later). Set on nearly two secluded acres in the east end of Ojai, the property is surrounded by birds, butterflies, and peaceful neighbors.

 

The Sugar Shack, or main house, is a romantic wooden cabin. It is at once rustic and charming, open and inviting, with 1921 panes of wavy glass filling large window frames. Everything is original. It’s like stepping back in time.

 

In the ’20s, the property was part of a much larger community, a section of eminent theosophist Mary Gray’s estate. It was there that Krishnamurti and his followers made their home. Years later, the property was purchased by ballerina Billie Berrie, who retired to the one-room cabin in the ’50s. Berrie added the maple sprung floor dance hall, where she taught the latest steps to neighborhood children.

 

“This place has been reincarnated so many times,” says Anna. “But it has always been a place for people to gather. So many people I’ve met around town have a story to tell about the property.” Indeed, Ojai folklore boasts of luminaries such as John Lennon and Aldous Huxley visiting the bridge at the edge of her garden.

 

In the 1990s, the house was owned by permaculturalist Tom Brown, who planted orchards and created a garden filled with unusual fruit trees: cherimoya, guava, jujube, persimmon, Mexican lime, grapefruit, cuties, macadamia nut, apricot, plum, and more. True to the principles of permaculture, a number of legume trees were also planted, their sole purpose to feed and create mulch for the nearby fruit trees. “There’s always something in bloom or about to fruit,” says Anna, an avid garden-lover, with a broad smile.

 

Even their growing menagerie has a purpose, in addition to being cute. The manure gets tipped around the fruit trees, and goats are living compost machines. They eat all the clippings from the yard, and also provide good company on long walks in the neighborhood.

 

Anna is remaining true to the artistic roots of her home. She uses the light and airy dance hall as a community room. A handcrafted, reclaimed oak table that was left behind a few owners ago is perfectly placed for entertaining, while still leaving room for musical instruments and the art studio where she paints and sculpts.

 

Since moving to Ojai, Anna finds her days increasingly productive. “I’ve just finished a huge acrylic painting of Chief’s Peak (an iconic local mountain). I usually paint very controlled and precise still lifes, so this was really fun. I think the space and the view inspire me on a daily basis.

 

Life at the Sugar Shack is good for Anna and her daughter. “Creating, whether it be gardening or art, adds to the enjoyment of my life,” she says. “For me, there’s nothing more valuable than a beautiful landscape to make me happy and change my mood.”

Tierney Gearon

 

Atlanta-born, fine art and commercial photographer, Tierney Gearon, found fame when she deviated from her successful commercial career and began documenting her personal life, and the lives of her children and extended family. Her everyday images, brightly-colored and with surreal twists, sparked controversy as well as praise at her first show at the Saachi Gallery in London. (“I Am A Camera.”) Other projects to-date include “The Mother Project,” a painfully intimate film and accompanying still photos of her mentally ill mother, and “EXPOSURE,” a body of work using double exposures sans retouching.

 

Tierney Gearon has been my “partner in crime” for over fourteen years. We met on the set of a photo shoot I was producing (for extremely uptight clients). Tierney was the photographer.

 

We were shooting on the beach. The day was going well when I went to find Tierney after lunch break, to set up for the next shot. To my absolute horror (producer hat on) and amusement (bohemian hat on), I found her on the sand, stark naked, doing a handstand. She’d written I LOVE YOU on her belly. The wardrobe stylist was taking a shot to send to Tierney’s boyfriend.

 

“Do you know anyone who’d be willing to take their clothes off?” Tierney asked me after the shoot. When I looked at her aghast, (I never took my clothes off) she smiled. “It’s for a project I’m doing while I’m in L.A.” My producer hat demurred, but my bohemian hat overruled it. The next day Tierney was at my house, shooting naked people for ID Magazine, and I was one of them!

 

To describe her is like trying to break down a whirlwind. She’s a storm of artistic fervor, a lover of life and the art that trails behind her; masterpieces follow in her wake. For Tierney, creation is as essential as breathing. Her brilliant mind is rarely still. Like a whirlwind, she’s a force of
nature.

 

Then there is Tierney the friend who’ll drive an hour out of her way, just to drop in and stay ten minutes, just to touch base. She’s a builder of safe havens, and a wonderful friend. When you’re with Tierney, one thing is for certain: You are going to laugh a lot.

 

Tight friends and co-conspirators in art and in life, Tierney and I have collaborated on numerous projects. She included my kids,most recently in her ABC book published by Damiani. 

 

AF:Tierney, why did you move to Malibu?

 

TG:I lived in Santa Monica for ten years. I’d begun to outgrow my environment. My four kids and I needed a change. I’d always thought of Malibu as a weekend place. I never knew there
was a whole other world, the other side of PCH. I found my house by happy accident, and fell in love with it.

 

AF:How do you find the community here in Malibu?

 

TG:I’ve discovered a wonderful world of gentle, uncomplicated people, like hidden gems. Ilove the schools, and it boasts the most incredible sports programs for the kids. It’s a real community with an old town feel.

 

AF:What art projects are you working on these days?

 

TG:The industry has changed so much. I’m not in a rush to put my work out there. In fact, I am prompted to hold on to my work and pause a moment. So, the new house, with its six acres overlooking the ocean, is my latest art project. There’s so much to do! The past year has consumed me. I’m converting the garden to a drought-tolerant space. The garden is like a huge painting. I’m either going to ruin it or become fa- mous for it, because I literally have no idea what I’m doing.

 

AF:That never stopped you before!

 

TG:I’m incorporating what was already in the yard, like the thousands of bulbs that come up once a year, with drought-resistant plants. We are incorporating a biodynamic vegetable garden.

 

AF:And then there are the animals?

 

TG:Yes. Those pesky goats that you gave me. I have to build higher and higher fences, because one of them has taught the others how to escape. We have chickens, too. But I think we have too many now.

 

AF:How do you use your house and your space to create?

 

TG:I always have people staying with us - I thrive on lots of diverse energies in the house.
Every shoot I do these days is shot in my backyard. I use my whole property as a backdrop. I
have spaces for tie-dying, one of my passions, and for ceramics. We have even created a fairy
garden that keeps growing with things the kids add on a daily basis.

 

AF:What are your thoughts on social media, now that “anyone can be a photographer?”

 

TG:On one hand, I think it is incredible and I love the medium. But my response to a world flooded by images, is to pull back a little, and not be so quick to put my work out for

consumption. I do post things - but I think very carefully before I post them. Also, I find I can’t really post things without being censored and I can’t be censored, so I’m cautious about what I

share. I’m biding my time until I see where I fit in all of this. AF: This move seems like a new chapter for you?

 

TG: Yes, this is a new chapter. Life for me is one big art project. Malibu is the perfect place to
create. 

Raising Rincon

A family of five has California dreaming Taylor made

 

BROOK, BILLY, AND THEIR THREE CHILDREN—Chet, 14, Xiaxia, 12, and Marlin, 4—live a charmed life on Rincon Beach...the quintessential California Dream. Located in the seaside community of Carpinteria, Rincon is home of the fabled longest wave in the state and was even immortalized in the Beach Boys’s famous song, “Surfin’ Safari.”

 

It also may well be the epicenter of all that is California—sun-bleached hair adorning freckle-faced kids, breathtaking sunsets, wet suited surfers stippling the waves of the Pacific, beach bonfires, frisky dogs playing in the sand, and the natural setting by the mouth of the river. Arriving at Rincon Beach, you get the feeling you’ve stumbled upon a romantic, secret world that belongs in simpler, more innocent times.

 

As she drives up to her house in the gated residential community, Brook Harvey-Taylor—cofounder of Pacifica, a line of natural, 100 percent vegan beauty products—still has to pinch herself when she sees the surf rolling in. “There is not a day that I don’t think how lucky I am,” she says. “Living on Rincon Beach is most definitely a dream come true for me and Billy.”

 

All of the Taylors are competitive surfers, more often in the water than not. Chet mends the dings of locals’ surfboards; even Marlin considers herself a surfer. Homeschooling their children frees up the Taylors so they can take family trips and keep the kids focused on what they love most: music and surfing.

 

Both Billy and Brook attended college in Oregon, and it was ultimately the Portland weather—and the wish for warmer waters to surf—that fueled their wanderlust. One fateful trip, in search of sunnier climes, they decided to scour the California coast for a great surf town to call home. As luck would have it, after landing in Los Angeles, all of their belongings, including their beloved surfboards, were stolen. In a land where every cloud has a silver lining, this seeming tragedy gave the Taylors the opportunity to fall in love with beautiful, sunny Carpinteria, home to Rincon Designs, where they replaced their stolen boards.

 

Brook, who has surfed Rincon since her early 20s,
has always loved it there. “So many times I’d look up
at those houses on the beach and think how lucky the people who lived in them were,” she says. Nine years
ago, their dream came true when the Taylors found their present house. They were encouraged by a neighbor, who seduced them with magical stories of raising children on Rincon, creating such an enticing scenario that they were determined to replicate it, and the deal was sealed.

 

The house, which started as a 1972 tract home, has now been sculpted into a wonderfully light and airy family home with a good dose of midcentury aesthetic, adding some chicness to the easy atmosphere. If houses are said to create portraits of their owners, then this one is an easy read, especially being that it was designed without the help of an interior decorator. The beach house is the perfect canvas to showcase the Taylors’ eclectic personal style, always taking into account the considerations of real life. Filled with vintage skateboards and surfboards, the fun-loving spirit of the rooms comes alive with colorful objects, art work, and furniture carefully chosen for its ability to stand the test of time—style-wise—as well as

to withstand the wear and tear of children. Brook jokes: “Our beautiful Milo Baughman white sofas are now beautiful grey Milo Baughman sofas; but I love that idea of barefoot kids running all over the house, so we made sure it’s very livable.”

 

Collecting things that have history, durability, and meaning, the Taylors insist, is a rule of thumb. Brook especially loves the Shepard Fairey prints and fine art photography hanging throughout the house. Everything contributes to a warm and welcoming home. Brook’s favorite purchase: “It seemed like a fortune at the time, buying the Noguchi lamp.” They bought it when she and Billy first tasted success. “It means so much to us.” For Brook and Billy, both self-made with the advent of their company, Pacifica, the purchase became a reminder of how far they have come.

 

Pacifica conveys the dichotomy of a sophisticated life lived naturally. “It’s about beauty, lifestyle, the use of all natural ingredients, and recyclable packaging,” she says. They were heavily influenced by Jean Michel Cousteau of the Cousteau Society. He encouraged the Taylors to use recyclable materials and natural products, allowing them to “walk the talk” and to be responsible business owners.

Brook reflects on what she took away from her childhood, growing up on a small cattle ranch in Montana. For her, it’s all about the cycle of life and the connection to nature. “For my kids,” she says, “the waves are their horses.” True. And the connection to Mother Earth remains the same. 

 

Setting the Bar

 

Named after a summit in Ojai, CHIEF'S PEAK - brainchild of dynamic duo Ariane Aumont and Joya Rode Thomas, whose serendipitous meeting and playful sugestion "Lets open a bar one day!" cae to frutation last summer - is Ojai Rancho Inn's latest addition. A hotel room turned lounge open from noon to 10 pm every day, it's small and friendly with a view of the garden and pool and attracts visitors and locals alike. With both indoor and outdoor seating, it's a place where it's easy to start a conversation or begin a friendship. Inn owners Chris Sewell and Kenny Osehan's refreshing design is keeping with the rest of the property's decor. Heather Levine ceramic lights illuminate the bar, which is stocked with local beer, wine, soju, sake, quirky nonalcoholic beverages and a clutch of cocktail shrubs made by Nostrum. Vintage board games, membership mugs that hang on the wall, and a record player for lo-fi vinyl entusiasts (music is curated by Warbler Records & Good's Kurt Legler) round the space. 

Mr. Blondes Have More Fun

 

I’m not your typical moviegoer. Usually I prefer a chatty, lingering meal with friends over sitting in a large, dark room eating popcorn and not talking to anyone. But I bit the bullet and ducked into a movie theatre to give myself an heroic dose of Chicago-born actor, Michael Madsen, Hollywood’s most beloved, infamous psychopathic killer. Sure, he played the nice dad in Free Willy, but it is his startling performances in such box office hits as Reservoir Dogs, Thelma and Louise, Kill Bill 1 and 2, Donnie Brasco, Sin City, and The Getaway that made his reputation. I came to the interview, eyes blinking in the bright, afternoon sunlight, after three hours immersed in The Hateful Eight, Madsen’s latest collaboration with director Quentin Tarantino. Half dazed still from the darkness and bloodshed of the film, I come once again, face to face with cold-blooded gang member, Joe Gage. Only this time he is smiling as we sit at a picnic table, under a canopy of shady sycamore trees at one of Malibu’s most beautiful ranches. We chat about Madsen’s new film, the recent loss of his father, his love for his wife, six sons, and Malibu, and the joy to be found in life’s simple pleasures.

 

MM: Amelia, you have to see The Hateful Eight more than once to understand it. Things move quickly and just when you start to think you know who everyone is, you realize it’s all a lie. Things get pretty cold-blooded. For me, it’s interesting because it’s my fourth film with him (Tarantino), and if you look at the other three, they are filled with me making little comments. I am always adding something. Quentin has traditionally left them in the edit. But in this film, man, he cut me down to the bare bones. I am just a guy. He really made Joe Gage one-dimensional, but he knows what he’s doing. I don’t know why he cut me the way he did in The Hateful Eight, but I’d rather be a fly on the wall in that movie than not be in it. He picked me for one of the eight, and I’m honored. I get to kill poor Charlie and poison the coffee. And you know, oddly enough, those things won’t be mentioned for four or five years. Just like when I did Reservoir Dogs, no one said anything about cutting the cop’s ear off! It was five or eight years later. Then I’m the guy who cut off the ear. What about being the dad in Free Willy? No one ever comes up and says, “Oh, man, you were great in Free Willy!” I don’t have much to say in The Hateful Eight. I don’t say anything funny or smart, and I don’t know if I like that or not.

 

AF : What about your other films? Do you like any of them?

 

MM: I didn’t like Reservoir Dogs when it first came out, but then, three years later, I started to realize it was a great film. It’s very funny. But man, it’s hard to enjoy watching myself, because I have too many memories of what it was like to do them. The whole time, I’m thinking that I’m going to see something and then it’s not there. It’s been cut in a different way than I expected. But then, you look at a film like Hell Ride, a motorcycle movie I did with Dennis Hopper and David Carradine, that Quentin produced. That movie is one of my personal favorites. It’s a great picture and part of the reason it works is that Quentin re-cut the entire movie so that you come away really thinking about The Gent, the character I play. And Tarantino, he did that for me.

 

AF: How did you and Tarantino first meet?

 

MM: I got the script for Reservoir Dogs and I was flat out offered the part of Mr. Blonde. I never heard of Tarantino, nobody had. I read this script and I thought, ‘My God! Criminals all named after colors and they all die and I was like, what the f@#k is this about?’ My agent, of course, told me not to do it because of the small budget and a first-time director. But Harvey Keitel, who I was so fond of after doing Thelma and Louise with him, was going to be Mr. White. I thought ‘Holy sh@t, man! I don’t care what anybody says, I going to do it.’ And I’m glad I did. I told Quentin that I wanted to be Mr. Pink because he was relatively nice and he gets the diamonds at the end. So he let me come in and audition for Mr. Pink and try to convince him, even though I already had Mr. Blonde. That was the very first time I met him was when I was going in to read for that part. I did my reading and I thought, yup, I nailed it! But he just stood there arms folded and shaking his head and he said,“ Nope, you’re Mr Blonde or your not in the movie.”

 

AF: Talk to me about Malibu, the idyllic life?

 

MM: I have five sons and one stepson, so that’s six I’m raising in Malibu. I didn’t grow up like this. I grew up in Chicago and I didn’t have f@#k all. I was working in a car wash when I was fourteen, so you can’t teach your kid that stuff when they grow up in Malibu wanting for nothing. I thought that I was doing the right thing giving them the idyllic life. I don’t regret it – but at the same time, certain things in life you can only learn by suffering and by having to find your own way.

 

 

AF: How old are your sons?

 

MM: My sons range from twenty-seven to ten. One is going into the Airborne Rangers to fight for his country, one is a scientist, another an actor and writer,another graduated from film school and is in Berlin now, and I still have the little ten year old at home.

 

AF: How much of your life have you not followed the rules ?

 

MM: Ha! I’ve been a much better rule breaker than a rule maker! I would have to say that the times I progressed is when I broke the rules. When I took risks in life I actually learned something about myself, and was able to accomplish something decent. If you accept your circumstances in life and don’t do anything about it – you are never gonna go anywhere.

 

AF: And your times of excess?

 

MM: I mean I’m not running around like a lunatic anymore, but you know the 80’s and the 90’s was the age of cocaine and alcohol, that was my abusive time. I’m over it but I don’t regret it. The biggest thing I’ve learned in the last two years is that it’s a big world out there and as soon as you leave L.A. no one gives a flying f@#k about the Kardashians and no one cares about all this celebrity worship that goes on in L.A. The rest of the world is really so much more fun, Paris, London, Thailand, anywhere is. I just came back from Rome! Talk about culture and art, I went to an exhibit of Leonardo da Vinci’s where they built all the stuff that he drew – and most of the inventions worked except the flying thing, but what hit me was that, at the end of his life, the last sentence he uttered was “I let myself down, I let down mankind and most of all my good Lord because I never reached my full potential.” It was such a sad thing to read. I couldn’t believe it.

 

AF: We are all so hard on ourselves, I guess it’s a relief to know even Leonardo was, too.

 

MM: I’m my own worst enemy, I can never do enough, I evaluate myself every morning: “ How can I be the best father that ever lived?” And then every night, when I go to bed I ask myself: “Did I do a good job ?”

 

AF: Parenting is the ultimate test.

 

MM: That’s become the biggest thing for me, I just want to be a good dad. I’m a film maker of course but, I also want to be a good dad. I haven’t been perfect that’s for sure, I screwed up many times along the way, but at least I tried – that’s what the difference is, that I keep trying. That’s what they will write on my tombstone: “He tried ! The guy that cut of the cop’s ear … he tried.”

 

You know I met Robert Mitchum years ago. I was introduced to him by my sister who was nominated for her role in Sideways. I hadn’t done anything and I sat down and Robert wouldn’t even look up at me and there I was, he was eating french toast and I figured I should just get up and leave because he was ignoring me. I started to get up and he said in a booming voice, “What are you going you do with yourself son? What is your plan?” I say …. stammering “Ah …” I was an auto mechanic I fixed cars for a living. But I told him I wanted to be Richard Petty, the NASCAR racer but since it costs too much money to race cars, that I wanted to be an actor. And he goes:“WHY? Why would you ever want to do something like that?”

 

When Robert Mitchem passed away I read this interview where he summed it up …. ‘Well,being an actor is an embarrassing and humiliating profession.They pay you to do nothing and in the end it all means absolutely nothing.’ Did he really mean that or was he just trying to sound like a bad ass?

 

AF: How would you sum it up?

 

MM: Oh my God, I’m a long way away from summing up anything! But I’ve got clarity now from my issues with my father. He died last December. It’s so strange when someone dies. They become immortal because memories are there in your mind forever. Hey, you can’t get them on the phone anymore but they are here forever and its the strangest thing. I rehearsed it in my mind so many times but it never feels how you think it will. He was 89 and he was still smoking and drinking! He was a tough old bugger who came from a different era.

 

AF: What kind of father was he ?

 

MM: Well, he did the best he could in the circumstances, but my dad was an extremely unhappy guy. He became a firefighter right after I was born for the pension and the security, he was a hero in the world. He just wanted to be loved and be a hero in his own home. He wanted to enter his home justified. I remember once my dad slid me down the pole in his arms as a small child.

 

AF: That is an incredible image.

 

MM:My parents divorced when I was ten because my mom always wanted more out of life. She was the artist. He got his pension, he got what he wanted. The part of me that is him is pretty strong, it’s that Danish blood, that Viking Nordic stuff, and it’s heavy. I was pretty dangerous when I was younger for a lot of different reasons. Obviously I have matured now, but my dad was a very big influence on me.

 

AF: And your mother?

 

MM: Thank God for my mom, otherwise I probably would have never become an actor. I was going to school to be a paramedic when I got my first acting job. I mean it could have gone either way. Mom is the artist, self taught, she has read every book you can imagine you can call her and ask her any thing and she will know the answer. She turned me on to a lot of poets and she opened up my world. Mom is an Emmy winner and accomplished writer and director. I learned big lessons from both of my parents.

 

AF: Do you still write poetry?

 

MM:I wrote all that stuff when I was loaded and really depressed and in a bad state of mind. It was a way of getting a lot of stuff off my chest. I cover my childhood and very personal biographical stuff. It’s what came from having a lot of down time, sitting in trailers on movies or on airplanes. I would just start writing stuff. I’d write on napkins and match books but I was not intending to write a book. It was my wife, Deanna’s idea to gather all the stuff I had written and put it into a book. I haven’t written a word in three years – it doesn’t come over me any more. I don’t have those thoughts any more. Maybe I’ll start doing it again someday?

 

AF: How long have you and your family lived in Malibu?

 

MM: Its been about twenty-two years. I had moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had been crazy filming The Get Away – I was a lunatic – so I moved away from L.A. and my plan was not to come back. But then I met Deanna and it changed everything.Also, I wanted to see my boys, so I rented a house in Malibu. We never wanted to leave so I bought the house and that was it. I mean who wants to leave Malibu? It’s like being on another planet.

 

AF: What’s in the pipeline?

 

MM: I have been working on a TV series for Sony called Powers. I play a super hero called Super Shock. I have a cape and I can fly! And I have a movie coming out next month called Death In The Desert, directed by Josh Evans. It’s about Ted Binion, which is cool.

 

AF: What makes you happy?

 

MM: Happiness is when I am with my ten year old and we go to the grocery store and buy tons of bread and we feed the ducks at Pepperdine. It’s so peaceful. There are a bunch of turtles in the pond too, and they fight the ducks for the bread and it’s really really funny. We also swim together a lot, and I love to read to him. I like driving him to school and picking him up. I know that day will come when I can’t hold his hand and it’s over, f@#k. He knows it too. He said to me, “Dad I’m gonna hold your hand for a lot longer. I promise I will hold your hand for another fifteen years.” These things make me happy, that, and knowing that I got to see my dad’s tiny smile one last time before he died. You just can’t top that. Now how about a glass of Chardonnay?

 

Women Who Inspire: Kendall Conrad

“Simplicity plus practicality equals sophistication.” This belief embodies designer Kendall Conrad’s personal style, as well as the aesthetic of her West Coast stores and eponymous line of accessories.

Now in her forties, the Californian beauty is the epitome of chic, with a dash of Spanish charm. (Conrad spent time in Spain as a child with her artist parents as her father was also a bull fighter.)

Conrad creates high-end yet understated accessories (read: no giant logos). She believes that beauty is found in the simple things. “I’m not a clotheshorse. I want to put on a smock and then accessorize it. I think that clothes should be a bank canvas; it’s how you dress up the canvas that creates style,” she says. She carries this ideal through to her home as well, preferring neutral furniture, then adding color and character with flowers, books, candles, and art.

Conrad, who grew up in Santa Barbara, traveled the world as a fashion model before returning home with her husband, photographer David Cameron. It was in 2000, while pregnant with their second daughter, that Conrad created her handbag line, Tauro. “I started with handbags; that was the first vehicle for my creative outlet. These bags were my aesthetic, but a little more hippie, a little less refined,” she says.

As the company grew, Conrad took a stand against manufacturing in China, choosing California instead, and went on to create the label Kendall Conrad in 2008. “My bags come from a starting point of functionality and then a ‘look,’” she says.

“I’m super reductive, so I’m always taking things off the bags.” Two years later she opened a store in Venice, then another in Brentwood, and a third in Montecito. Conrad has plans to open her fourth store next year in a location yet to be revealed.

Conrad uses only sustainable, food-grade leather (a byproduct of the food industry) in her handbags. She prides herself on not wasting anything, using every piece of leather — even a 2-by-2-inch scrap will be turned into a key chain!

“I couldn’t just sell handbags in my store,” Conrad says, “so I started making small case goods as well, belts and cuffs to accessorize more fully. Then, of course, each leather cuff needed a matching sandal.”

A jewelry line was a natural evolution. “We started out with brass and we added gold, silver, and everything in between.” Designs are inspired by, among other things, walks on the beach, where she collects seaweed, shells, and rocks.

Conrad relies on yoga to keep her mind focused and her body fit. “I am currently obsessed with yoga,” she says. “It makes me feel great and wakes up my brain. Afterward, I am revitalized and ready to get back to work.” She also uses her own, toxin-free bee’s wax candles to set the right mood while working at her desk.

“These days,” she says, “I am healthier than I have ever been and feel better than ever. If something gets broken, I fix it. I had shoulder surgery and now it’s back 100 percent. I had Lasik eye surgery, and now I have 24/24 vision.”

“When I became a mother, I felt more adult. I’ve gotten smarter with age. I want to set an example for my children.” Though responsibility has made Conrad more serious, she still loves to have a good time. “It’s hard not to be serious, running a business, but catch me on the weekend,” she says.

© 2017 Amelia Fleetwood.  Ojai, California 

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