Cheri Pann started life in the public housing projects of East L.A. At an early age, she began drawing and coloring everything within her reach, but her mother, knowing only about the performing arts, proceeded to send her to piano, dancing, and acting lessons. In her late teens, Cheri went to see a Van Gogh exhibit, which changed her life. “I stood in front of his paintings and said ‘I’m an artist!’” she remembers, and she has never looked back. From the late 60s to the mid-90s, Cheri had more than 20 solo exhibitions in California and Japan, and she participated in more than 50 group shows.
Since the mid-90s, she has exhibited exclusively in her live/work studio in Venice, California, where she is continuously at work painting in oil, building mural-sized constructions that serve as political commentaries, and creating vessels, functional items, and tiles out of stoneware clay. Her tiles have found their way into the mosaics decorating her home—reminiscent of the work of Gaudi or the Watts Towers of Sam Rodia—as well as numerous private commissions, all jointly executed with her husband, Gonzalo Duran.
Pann’s ongoing project for the past several years has been a series of expressionist oil portraits of Duran, which now take up an entire wall of their home. There are currently 32 portraits in the series, which Cheri plans on expanding with 16 more. In addition, Pann has painted self-portraits and studies of Gonzalo and her together. “I have five galleries of work in our house. It’s always growing, always evolving,” she says.