Artist and Realtor team up to create zenlike setting in unique home


By Kelley Carlson

By a stroke of luck, Realtor Marla Zanelli discovered artist Kate McCavitt’s colorful paintings one day as she was shopping along Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach.

Zanelli went inside Aja Rugs, where the Asian-influenced artwork was on display, and inquired about the painter. She was given a brochure, and although she didn’t buy anything on the spot, she kept McCavitt’s work in her thoughts.

Months later, Zanelli was asked by a friend to clean and stage a house he was selling in Carlsbad.

“It has a lot of wall space — it’s an excellent home to show art in,” she said.

And Zanelli had the perfect artist in mind.

Now, she and McCavitt are working together in harmony, creating a zenlike setting inside a residence that sits just across the street from the ocean, with calming views and gentle breezes.

Located at 101 Cannon Road in Carlsbad, the four-bedroom, four-bath home contains 3,126 square feet of space, and is on the market for $1.95 million. Among its features is an elevator, a master bedroom with a meditation room, and a downstairs space that can be used as a movie, play or workout room. The residence — which was rented by Farrah Fawcett for a few years in the early 1990s — spans two lots that total more than 12,000 square feet.

Twenty-two of McCavitt’s pieces currently grace the walls, and the home buyer has the option of purchasing the art. Among the titled works are “Papaya,” which incorporates real seeds from the fruit; “Full Moon Lotus,” created with acid-activated rust on iron oxide paint, enabling the color to change over time; “Tic Tac Tao-Separateness-Togetherness,” containing nine moveable 10x10s with art on both sides, all within a 40-inch square wood box; “Winter Moon,” which highlights cranes — birds believed to ferry the souls of the departed to the heavens, according to Asian myths; “Tattoo Suite,” consisting of four individual squares -- each with a mythological creature — combined into one work; and “Entering the Great Kiva,” inspired by McCavitt’s trip to Chaco Canyon, N.M., where ancestral Pueblo people resided. Some of the other displayed paintings are created in the SuiteStickS format, custom canvasses that can be hung horizontal or vertical in which the width/height ratio is approximately 1 to 4.

McCavitt also has some pieces in the house featuring the enso, in which the brushed ink of a circle is created in one movement — an expression of one’s spirit in that moment.

The Oceanside resident has been studying oriental philosophy since the 1960s, and learning the art of brush painting since 1988. Formerly the owner of a corporate project management company that handled enterprise voice and data installations, McCavitt gave it up several years ago to pursue her artistic passions on a full-time basis.

While she is trained as a Sumie — or “Chinese Brush” — artist, McCavitt is self-taught in other genres, merging her techniques into abstract mixed media. She tends to use bold, pure colors; strong contrasts; and heavy textural elements.

“For texture, I engrave foils — mostly spherical shapes — and paint them with powdered metals mixed with gloss mediums, or layer them with color over the metallic and collage them on,” she states on her Web site, “I also will add gold mica flakes and miniscule glass or metal beads to create a field of contrast.”

McCavitt said she did not create any new pieces for the house on Cannon Road, but drew from inventory that was in between being assigned to a new gallery.

“My first thought (when Zanelli contacted me) was that my husband and I both have a saying: My art belongs on any walls other than our own,” McCavitt said in an interview. “If we have an excess inventory of art, it’s better where we have other eyeballs on it.”

Also, Zanelli — who is with Prudential California Realty in Del Mar — had an ideal clientele base, McCavitt said.

The artist had displayed her work in homes once before, as she had pieces exhibited in a showcase in St. George, Utah, about four years ago.

For Zanelli, who has bought and sold real estate for more than 20 years, it was her first time coordinating such a project with an artist. She had had previous experience remodeling homes, which was noted by the Cannon Road property’s listing agent, Zanelli’s friend Michael Citrin.

“He knew I would do a good job in taking on the project,” Zanelli said.

It took about two months to modernize the home, which was built in 1991, she said.

In the meantime, Zanelli said she is working on a new listing in Solana Beach and would love to have McCavitt’s work displayed.

Along with the Carlsbad house, McCavitt’s art can be seen at Aja Rugs, 143 S. Cedros Ave. in Solana Beach, and at Art & Frames, 936 Orange Ave. in Coronado.

Open houses to show the house and art are planned from 1 to 6 p.m. May 6 and May 20. To make appointments at other times, call Zanelli at (858) 922-1341.