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Charm House Tour to feature 5 properties in Laguna Canyon

A look inside the home of longtime Laguna Beach artist Randy Bader. The home will be part of the Charm House Tour on Sunday.
(Courtesy of Charles Michael Murray)
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Randy Bader, an elder statesman of Laguna Beach’s art festivals, found it somewhat amusing when he was approached about including his home on the Charm House Tour.

The woodworking artist has shown his work for 45 years at the Sawdust Art Festival and for 48 years at the Festival of Arts. Throughout that time, Bader insists that he has only taken on art projects that he wanted to do. He has encouraged young artists to do the same.

“I have never made anything to sell,” Bader said. “I only make what I want to make, and I’m very fortunate in that, for some reason, my design sense, people really like. I can’t explain it, to be honest with you.

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“I’ll look in the mirror sometimes and go, ‘How the hell did I get here?’ Yes, you have to sell. When I started doing cutting boards, which is what I did for the first nine years at the Sawdust, I didn’t do them for the money. … I did them so that I would never have to make a piece of furniture that somebody wanted out of a book, or out of a magazine, or something like that.”

Bader’s personal connection to his own artwork seeped over into his house, making it an ideal candidate to be featured on the tour.

Interestingly, the inspiration for Bader’s home came from the past owner of another house included on this year’s slate of homes.

A look inside the former home of Robert Young, an artist known for a painting called "The Big One."
A look inside the former home of Robert Young, an artist known for a painting called “The Big One.” The home will be featured on the Charm House Tour on Sunday.
(Courtesy of Josephine Torbensen)

Jerry Rothman, who was a ceramics artist and a professor at Cal State Fullerton when Bader went to school there, held an annual Halloween party. When Bader attended one, he discovered that everything in the house was a work of art. He made note of the house being free of decorations and store-bought products.

“I saw that and I said, ‘This is exactly what I want my house to be,’” Bader said. “That was when I was a young art student, and I didn’t have any art. That was my inspiration. … Jerry’s house is on the tour.

“A lot of art, I don’t think is as personal. It’s beautiful. People buy it because of the name of the person, or because it was expensive, or because of something. But the way we collected art, I can walk through the house and tell you a story about almost every single piece on the wall, every single piece on the counter.”

The Charm House Tour is put on annually by Village Laguna the Sunday after Mother’s Day. It returned from a coronavirus-induced hiatus last May, and this will be its 49th iteration.

Buses will leave between noon and 3 p.m. from the Festival of Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Road. Tickets are $70 presale or $80 on the day of the tour at villagelaguna.org. The houses will close for viewing at 5 p.m.

Johanna Felder, a past president of Village Laguna, said the tour has viewed all sorts of neighborhoods in Laguna Beach. Several go by their own names, from Bluebird Canyon to Top of the World. The most recent tour took place exclusively in North Laguna.

“We have had castles and cottages because people like to see some of the larger homes that have been built,” Felder said. “We’ve had some of the wonderful homes on the oceanfront, so they haven’t all been cottages. We usually try to give people a variety to show what Laguna has, but this is very unique in the fact that we’re in the canyon.”

Tour organizers believe it will deliver on that promise of variety again. In addition to its nod to Laguna Beach’s artistic culture, a visit to the Blue Bell Foundation for Cats will show the kind of outside-the-box thinking that has been present in town.

The Blue Bell property is a cottage home. Bertha Yergat opened her door to new feline friends that had lost their way. She founded the organization, and to this day, senior cats continue to enjoy a comfortable living.

A couple pause to admire "The Big One", a painting by artist Robert Young.
A couple pause to admire “The Big One”, a painting by artist Robert Young, during the Art and Nature show at Laguna Art Museum.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The former residence of artist Robert Young, known for a nine-year undertaking called, “The Big One,” is also on the tour. The 9-foot-by-15-foot painting was on display during Laguna Art Museum’s Art and Nature Festival in 2022.

Those who take the tour will also visit the Pearl, a wellness retreat that has operated in the canyon for 15 years.

“I think this tour is a little different from our others,” said Rosemary Boyd, who contributed to the summaries of the sites in a brochure for the tour. “We have two properties that aren’t essentially somebody’s personal dwelling. There’s the Blue Bell Foundation, and then there’s the Pearl, which is essentially a business.”

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