Streng-er Things


In 2002, sculptor Tony Natsoulas exhibited at Crocker Art Museum and sold six pieces. He and his wife, Donna, put the proceeds toward a down payment on their Streng home by American River College. Ever since, the open wall and surface space has been dwindling at an exponential rate, as the avid collectors have curated—and continue to enrich—nearly every square inch with artwork and tchotchkes they love.

“We surround ourselves with what we love—and who we love,” says Tony, who counts many of the artists displayed in their home as friends and mentors, including Roy De Forest, Wayne Thiebaud, Fred Babb, David Gilhooly, Clayton Bailey and Paul DiPasqua.

Robert Arneson, one of Tony’s professors, actually willed a ceramic vase to him, and a self-portrait of the artist also anchors the living room. “Our style is figurative, humorous and colorful,” says Tony.

This kind of art is perfectly at home in the midcentury-modern house, along with its more “functional” fixtures, like the bubble-gum-pink washer and dryer, kaleidoscopic bathrooms and era-appropriate furniture inherited from Donna’s grandmother and the former owner of the house. “The artwork doesn’t move; we live around it,” says Donna, relaxing in her Eames-style lounge chair as the nearby “burping bowl” water feature billows an intermittent air bubble.

Various collections—like this assortment of ceramic noses—can be found throughout the house. This display complements a bust of Tony at 20 years old.

donna and tony
Tony and Donna in their guest room, below a Paul DiPasqua piece made from bicycle parts.

natsoulas exterior
Behind those garage doors is Tony’s studio, which includes plenty of workspace and kilns.

Robot sculpture by Clayton Bailey, who also officiated at Tony and Donna’s wedding.

natsoulas entry
The Natsoulases painted their Streng-style doorway to resemble a Mondrian masterpiece.

natsoulas kitchen table
Larger-than-life-size sculptures command both the dining room and the backyard.