Turner House – Marylyn and Chuck Klaus
by Stephanie Cartozian
Every semester, three promising Syracuse University Masters of Fine Arts students are selected by faculty to make a pilgrimage to Turner House in San Pedro for an art immersion program that lasts 15 weeks. The scholarship program was established by one of Palos Verdes’ most ardent advocate of the arts, Marilyn (Turner) Klaus in 2010. Since then, it has evolved into what current Syracuse scholarship recipient Candice Corgan describes as an “intensive and interdisciplinary submersion into the arts, yet every week on Sundays we come up for air to make food together, sit down together and have a cocktail.”
Klaus’s goal was two-fold. She wanted to express thanks to her upstate New York alma mater where she earned both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree. And she wanted to give serious students a “leg up” in the art world.
Klaus lost her father when she was seven and attended Syracuse on a scholarship from General Electric, where her mother worked. She supplemented her scholarship money cleaning houses for 50 cents an hour. In 2014, Syracuse recognized her with the prestigious Melvin A. Eggers Senior Alumni Award, which is presented to alumni who graduated more than 50 years ago, and who have demonstrated loyalty and service to Syracuse University.
Syracuse student Jessie Wang said of the program, “We are introduced here to a new prominent L.A. artist each week and we can see all the different career aspects available in the arts, firsthand.”
The Angels Gate Cultural Center provides students with ocean views, loft studios and access to acclaimed L.A. artists such as Edgar Arceneaux, who has been involved in the program since its inception. Arceneaux has exhibited at the UCLA Hammer Museum, Yerba Buena Center of the Arts and has led art workshops at The Broad.
Taro Takizawa, who recently graduated from the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University was part of the Turner immersion program in 2017. That year, he was commissioned to install his vinyl art on tall panes of glass at the Downtown Market building in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His also installed his vinyl creations in Poland and German. Like many of the students, Takizawa left one of his art pieces at Turner House following his semester there.
The Turner House is a modern gray toned, 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom home in the Palisades area of San Pedro. There are extensive harbor views from a covered, upstairs balcony, The front door is a bright orange which, not coincidentally, is Syracuse University’s official color. Klaus purchased the home in 2015 and hired architect Peter Rothe of Sierra Design in San Pedro to remodel it in a Frank Lloyd Wright architectural style combined with a contemporary “light and bright” student housing motif. Jorge Lopez was the general contractor and managed to finish the remodel and a 1,000 square feet addition in only three months — just in time to greet their first group of students in January of 2016. (Previously, the students were housed at the Center Street Lofts, which Klaus rented out and furnished for the students). The ceilings are tall, and the walls and shelves are filled with the students’ art.
The three current students, Candice Corgan, Jessie Wang and Leticia Hernandez, drove across country, separately, in August. Wang made the trek with friends in tow, Corgan with her mom and Hernandez with her godfather. When asked why they chose to drive, Corgan and Wang responded that they needed their cars here. It’s L.A.
“Our hope is that each semester the University selects three 2nd and 3rd year graduate students who will get along with each other so their focus remains steady on the arts,” Klaus said.
Klaus taught painting, ceramics and drawing at Palos Verdes High School before launching a real estate development company whose success afforded her broader breadth in her artistic endeavors. She with her husband Chuck Klaus have earned widespread recognition for their contributions to the arts and have their names on the Palos Verdes Art Center, Marymount College Klaus Center for the Arts in downtown San Pedro and the Norris Theater of Performing Arts. Klaus also holds a law degree she earned by attending night school while raising her three sons.