Noe Valley Voice April 2010

Store Trek

By Karen Topakian

Store Trek is a regular Voice feature profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce an art school and studio on the corner of Diamond and Elizabeth streets and a furniture and home decor store at its newest location on 24th Street.

Owner Kristin Scagliotti and instructor Lydia Greer (right) provide paint, puppets, and inspiration for Noe Valley’s youngest artists at Pixie Hall Studios.
Photoby Pamela Gerard
Pixie Hall Studios
649 Diamond Street at Elizabeth Street

On Nov. 30, when Kristin Scagliotti, opened the brick-red double-dutch doors to her Pixie Hall Studios, her life's palette of teaching, art, and parenting blended perfectly into one.

Scagliotti, a former teacher at McKinley Elementary School with a credential in art education, admits she "never had a lot of experience as an educator with younger children, but as a parent I could see what they could do."

Now as she runs her bustling art workshop, she can watch artists of all ages paint, sculpt, and draw every day. Scagliotti teaches 12 mixed-media art classes a week, Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., for kids as young as 18 months. Each Friday at 10 a.m., Pixie Hall presents a class called Emily Butterfly's Interactive Puppet Show, featuring puppets, music, and storytelling, for children up to age 8.

On Saturday mornings, adults and children can make beautiful art together at the Open Studio Family Art Workshop. Instructor Lydia Greer, who holds a master of fine arts degree from U.C. Berkeley, thinks the adults in the class may benefit almost as much as the kids, because "so many adults are intimidated by the art process."

The most popular class, says Scagliotti, is a class taught on Thursday afternoons for older kids who want to build an art portfolio for high school.

Pixie Hall also rents itself out on Saturday afternoons for birthday parties and celebrations. Two staff members provide a 90-minute art lesson, plus materials, that can accommodate the most serious of students. A recent birthday party for a 7-year-old focused on the achievements of architects Frank Gehry and Antoni Gaudi.

The studio space, formerly occupied by Andiamo Deli, has high ceilings and plenty of light shining through windows facing Elizabeth and Diamond streets. Both features show off Pixie Hall's gallery wall, whose theme changes regularly. In March, works by revered collage artist Romare Bearden were on display, inspiring students to paint paper cutouts of guitars while they listened to jazz music. "We're doing our darnedest to give them the full experience," says Scagliotti, who previously ran an after-school art program at Claire Lilienthal Elementary School.

As a mother of two daughters, ages 2 and 5, and a Diamond Street resident, Scagliotti chose Noe Valley because "the place is very familiar to me. I was going through a divorce, living in Glen Park. I spent so much time waiting for something to do...waiting in the cold and fog for the library to open."

When the Andiamo store became vacant last fall, Scagliotti jumped at the chance to follow her dream. "It was do or die to get the space."

Future plans for the studio include a seven-week summer camp (June 7 to July 30) for children 3 to 10 years old, and an alternative-to-preschool art academy starting in August for kids ages 2 to 4.

Pixie Hall Studios is open Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday mornings.

For information about class schedules, costs, and registration, go to Pixie Hall's website, Classes are generally $15, but discounts are available with monthly memberships.

Jewelry designer Dona Taylor displays an eclectic assortment of furniture and home accessories at When Modern Was on 24th Street.
Photo by Pamela Gerard

When Modern Was
4037 24th Street between Noe and Castro

Dona Taylor will always remember the night of Feb. 22. "I woke up in the middle of the night and said to my husband Bill, 'I want to open a furniture business on 24th Street. Find me a place.' And he did!"

A few short weeks later, on Saturday, March 13, Taylor opened When Modern Was at 4037 24th Street with the help of her husband, Bill Hoover. (The couple also own the nearby Gallery of Jewels.)

Taylor sought a retail location on 24th Street, even though she owns a similar store on Church Street, because "Noe Valley needed a good furniture store." According to Taylor, the new location, which is bigger, can accommodate more furniture than her other store, which only has room for a small collection of pieces.

"I'm not carrying Grandma's antique dresser. We're not a thrift shop. It's art for your home," says Taylor, describing her eclectic assortment of vintage, repurposed, and recycled furniture. Many pieces in the store are those crafted by California artists Gypsy Beggs, Vickie Torrel, and Dan Smith, who take solid wood dovetailed-drawer dressers and sand and repaint them. The shop also sells decoupage trays, furniture, and shadow boxes by Mission-based artist Josie Carter, as well as jewelry (much of it designed by Taylor), pillows, and new and vintage linens.

In the former home of the clothing store Riki, Taylor painted the walls a pale green, installed teak floors, and removed the exterior awning to allow more natural light. Surrounding the chests, tables, and chairs on display are unique decorative elements such as a pair of Corinthian columns, a large 1930s-era wall clock from a New Jersey train station, and a Buddha figure more than a century old.

The extra visibility on 24th Street has already paid off, says Taylor, a former Noe Valley resident who now lives in the Excelsior District. On opening day at the new shop, she sold four dressers and five lamps, plus jewelry and miscellaneous items. "I sold in one day what [the store on] Church Street sells in 10. Two pieces from the other store sold here."

(The Church Street outlet of When Modern Was will remain open until May 1, selling smaller gift and decorative items, she says.)

Taylor's newest store will also serve as a laboratory for 14 marketing students in Ricardo Sison's "Merchandising Promotional Strategies" class at Academy of Art University. Taylor says the students are learning "how to open a store from scratch, market it, and set up a business. They will redo the website and will be doing the Facebook page."

To celebrate her arrival on 24th Street, Taylor will host a party open to all on Saturday, May 1, starting at 6 p.m. There will be food and drink, and music by Noe Valley singer/songwriter Frank Cefalu and Friends.

Hours at When Modern Was are 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.