Home is Where the Art Is

Liz Simon - December 5, 2013

"The planning and artistic vision, which is apparent in every inch of this project, left me feeling inspired, and even joyful."

Prairie puts the finishing touches on a fireplace mural.
I don't suppose I've ever mentioned how much I love anything to do with architecture…interior, exterior, or the grounds. I don't know much about this subject, except what my background in graphic design and fine arts affords. Although, I did sit through, and throughly enjoy, many semesters of college art history classes in which I had to learn all the minutiae relating to the construction and design of medieval basilicas and cathedrals. But that is my only claim to any kind of authority relating to this subject.
So I was delighted when I received an invitation to visit a magnificent home, owned by Cathy and Chris Stoia, which she is renovating here in Santa Fe. The planning and artistic "vision" which is apparent in every inch of this project, left me feeling inspired, and even joyful. In particular, I was delighted with the mural paintings by artist Prairie Prince. Prairie was chosen by the project's director and owner (Cathy Stoia) to create original murals and structures throughout the house. Yes, his work is gorgeous and fresh and wonderful….but what impressed me the most was his enthusiasm and sheer joy in creating this wonderful art. You'll see for yourself in the photographs I have included. Everything he paints is designed to harmonize with other architectural elements in the home….both inside and out. And he accomplishes this beautifully.

Painted table by Prairie Prince.
When the renovation is complete, the home, named "Casa Que Pasa", will be rented out as a spectacular vacation destination---Spectacular and elegant---there are no other words to describe what the home and grounds will look like upon completion. There will be a full sized teepee in the enormous yard---an actual teepee that you can live in; and it will have all the amenities built into it. Imagine a five star Yurt if you can, and you'll get the general idea. No cost is being spared anywhere. The use of wood, stone and even concrete is elegant and in keeping with the history of this region. Both The Stoia Family and Prairie are dedicated to enhancing and honoring the architectural and cultural heritage of the area. I was so impressed by every aspect of the project, including a huge and lovely Koi pond with running water---so impressed in fact that I very graciously invited myself back! And they thought I was just there to take some pictures. Little did they know I'm ready to move in.

The ceiling being painted to match the existing scalloped form.
All joking aside, this visit was a treat. You cannot find more affable people than the Stoias and Prairie. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them even though this was my first time meeting both of them. Prairie is available for mural commissions; and since he is a southwest native, he "gets" it. In other words, his art naturally resonates with the rhythms and hues of this part of the country. And, I was not surprised to discover that Prairie has had a long and successful history in the music business. I can feel the musicality in all of the visual expressions he has created in this home.
Fireplace design by Prairie Prince, in progress.
Here are some interesting links to find out more about these talented people and this fascinating project. I'll include some photos as well.
To see more of Prairie's work, check out www.prairieprince.com
And, don't forget to visit the website of the homeowner and project director, Cathy Stoia. 
This amazing home will be listed on:
 "Airbnb" (www.airbnb.com) and "VRBO" (www.vrbo.com)
Cathy Stoia is a delightful and bright woman with an incredible design sense and a gift for big thinking. 
She is also the founder of Search & Design, a creative concierge service in Santa Fe. Visit that at www.searchanddesign.com
If you're an architecture/design/mural "fan"….do have a look at these links, you will not be disappointed.
Parts of the original adobe structure are allowed to show through.
Prairie relaxing in front of a completed fireplace, giving us an impromptu performance.
View from one of the bathrooms, still under construction. Wonderful use of rough-hewn stone.
Multi-hued tones in the wood, adobe and furniture.
This fascinated me….a dog's paw print in the original abobe which was discovered during the renovation. And the headpiece from a child's toy, also imbedded in the brick, probably a Christmas toy. How appropriate for right now.
The "Five Star Teepee" in the earliest stages. That's Prairie….loving what he does!
Here's the view you get from this property.
Deck chairs made of barrel staves!
Cheers and
Happy Trails to You from
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Land of Enchantment