See How Daring Art Collectors Use Their Bel Air Home for Performances, Installations, and Large-Scale Works
The next generation of a prominent California collecting family turns an architectural marvel into a showcase for an informed array of artworks
When a young California collector and her family were looking to relocate from their home in Beverly Glen in 2015 to a larger space with more views in Bel Air, she kept catching glimpses—it’s almost impossible to miss—of a soaring modernist pile that was designed in the 1980s by Ted Tokio Tanaka, the renowned Venice, California–based architect behind the polychromatic pylons of the LAX Gateway. Already in escrow on a nearby property, the couple circled back and discovered that this aging architectural marvel was still on the market. They soon changed course, purchasing the Tanaka construction and embarking on a substantial remodel helmed by Clive and Julie Bridgwater and landscape architect Pamela Burton. Over the next five years, they made substantial structural revisions, including adding a guesthouse pavilion, resiting the pool, and laterally bracing the floating, I-beam-supported tennis court, which the previous owner used for impromptu car shows.
Now completed, this four-story, 15,000-square-foot, light-soaked residence has become a gleaming repository for major art installations and glitzy art-world gatherings. In fact, this summer the family welcomed 250 people to their multitiered, three-acre-plus lawn for a 75th birthday party for the wife’s mother, the renowned collector and museum trustee Chara Schreyer.
“The dancers were on the roof performing and they also performed in the swimming pool—it was gorgeous”Chara schreyer
“It was just fantastic,” says Schreyer, noting that the American artist duo Gerard & Kelly staged Relay, a performance with dancers in costumes corresponding to a series of polychromatic vinyls spanning the windows of the home’s north-south bridgeway. “The dancers were on the roof performing, and they also performed in the swimming pool—it was gorgeous.”
Although the homeowners moved in at the height of the pandemic, when entertaining even on an intimate scale was taboo, they designed the home to accommodate fundraising galas. “I think one of the things that we’ve found fun about this house, especially with the artwork, is that the scale is so massive it’s like living in a museum, except that I like it to be comfortable and for everybody to relax,” says the wife.
Guests entering the home are greeted by a few (literally and emotionally) heavier works—notably Kathleen Ryan’s Bacchante (Reclining Nude) on the landing and a Monika Sosnowska Gate sculpture in the foyer. From there, the tone gets decidedly airier and more playful than what can be found in any of Schreyer’s five tightly curated Gary Hutton–designed homes, which are featured in the 2016 book Art House (Assouline). “My parents were Holocaust survivors, and my father survived the Auschwitz death march, so a lot of my collection deals with the unseen,” says Schreyer. Adds her daughter, “We have that history in our family and I appreciate that, but at the same time I can’t live with what she has on her wall,” referencing two portraits of the perpetrators of the 1998 Westside Middle School shooting near Jonesboro, Arkansas, which Schreyer displays in one of her residences.
Although play is an ongoing theme—be it in rooms designed for that express purpose or a shelfful of Paul McCarthy’s “Fake Shit” sculptures in the fourth-floor gallery hallway—another anchoring tenet is the interior’s connection to the natural world, including landscapes by Lee Friedlander and Finnish photographer Eija-Liisa Ahtila.
“I think one of the things that we’ve found fun about this house, especially with the artwork, is that the scale is so massive”says the homeowner
Light is also a common denominator, from the Gerard & Kelly vinyls to Madeline Hollander’s Heads/Tails: Walker & Broadway 1, made from discarded car lights collected around Los Angeles. Visible from the window in the elevator leading down to the second-floor game room, the once horizontal piece now climbs a 45-foot wall (above a trio of arcade games), flashing signals from a stoplight at the titular intersection in Tribeca in New York.
Early on in the remodel, Schreyer discovered a set of 25 Jorge Pardo glass lamps in a gallery and installed 18 of them in her daughter’s stairwell and one in the new guesthouse. In the primary bedroom are paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and Arthur Dove that Schreyer asked her ex-husband to give to their two daughters. These pieces provide a counterbalance to the whimsy found in two swings connected to the underside of the entry bridge as well as to Icelandic composer Jónsi’s site-specific light and sound installation, which re-creates the sensation of being caught in a whiteout, implemented in “the gallery” beneath the guesthouse stairs. Although the homeowner sits through the full 45-minute cycle only about once a month, her mother says, “It’s just meditative. It’s almost spiritual.” In other words, the general feeling you get when you set foot in this generous home.
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2022 Winter Issue under the headline “Family Values.” Subscribe to the magazine.