Collecting art is a hobby that Visalia physicians Michael and Andrea Boone began as newlyweds and, 28 years later, their collection has grown along with their family of three daughters.

Their north Visalia home is an ideal space for their plein air collection, full of natural light, lots of wall space and family members who value the story behind each piece. By regularly acquiring paintings over the years, the couple has been able to combine several of their joys: travel, time with family and each other, and furthering the legacy of Andrea’s father.

Their house does not resemble a gallery or museum, but rather a home that provides respite from their hectic careers, Michael as an ophthalmologist and Andrea as a gynecologist. It is also a favorite gathering place for their daughters’ friends, a popular stop for prom photographs and sleepovers.

The five-bedroom home was built in 1994 by Richard and Jane Allen as a family residence. The Boones purchased it in 2015, knowing at first glance that it would not only house their artwork, but be a home that could see them through the next phases of life as empty nesters and, hopefully someday, grandparents.

Following a six-month renovation led by contractor Brandon Ford, the residence was updated with new flooring, counter-tops, paint and light fixtures. Forest green had been the dominant color, both inside and out.

“The neighborhood knew it as the brick and green house, and I think they were slightly sad when we changed it,” Andrea said with a laugh. Michael added, “The bones of the house were perfect.” Today, the green has been replaced with a dark brown accent color, which complements the stately brick facade, dormers, shutters and doors.

As guests park on the circular driveway that abuts the elegant two-story and approach the front door, a glimpse of interior beauty is revealed through side light windows. Stepping over the threshold and after a greeting by two friendly Shih-Tzus, guests immediately see artwork in the wood-paneled library on their left and the formal dining room on the right.

Plein air, which translated roughly from French means “outdoors,” is a style of painting that is created by the artist outside, on location, and especially observant of natural light. Thus, landscapes from throughout California fill the Boone home and focus on the period between the early 1900s to present day. 

The couple met as medical students at the University of Southern California during an anatomy lab. They married in 1992 and shortly thereafter began collecting art.

Influenced by Andrea’s parents, the couple explained that they would tag along on weekend trips to visit galleries and see art shows. Before their daughters were born, they also enjoyed traveling to Europe to look at and collect art with her parents, Yvonne and Edward Boseker of North Tustin. “Those were really fun trips,” Andrea said. “We would take one once a year.”

After completing their residencies in St. Louis, the couple decided to settle in Mike’s hometown of Visalia to be near family. Mike’s parents, Dick and Cathy Boone, are longtime Visalia residents who now live in Exeter. Two of Mike’s three brothers, as well as several aunts and uncles, also live in the area.

As their own family began to grow, so did their art collection. They decided to focus on pieces created by living artists, making their collection more contemporary than that of Andrea’s parents. Coastal scenes recognizable to many fill the home, including locations in Pebble Beach, Carmel, Laguna Beach and Cayucos, where the Boones also have another home. Some of the scenes are especially historic as they were painted before development occurred.

When Andrea’s father passed away 12 years ago, the family decided to honor his legacy by giving an award in his name to an artist in the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (lpapa.org) each year. This year’s winner is Aaron Schuerr of Livingston, Mont. According to the LPAPA’s website, the organization was founded in 1996 “with a mission to preserve the history of the plein air movement of 19th century California, to support the tradition as it exists today, and

to foster a network among plein air painters nationwide.” The organization

is considered the steward of Laguna’s plein air legacy, which established the town as an artists’ colony in 1903.

Some of the more well-known names in the Boone collection include William Keith (1839-1911), known as the “Dean of California Painters” who created their favorite painting, “Carmel Bay,” located in the great room.

Another favorite of Andrea’s is by Maurice Logan (1886-1977), who painted “Stanford Quad” in 1928 depicting the iconic location on Stanford University’s campus before bricks were installed. Andrea completed her undergraduate degree at Stanford.

“Often, we loan our historical pieces to museums for exhibitions,” Michael said, and at the time of this interview, one piece was on loan to the Crocker Museum in Sacramento.

But the Boones agree that three paintings in their home are most precious — commissioned pieces of their daughters in various stages of childhood, playing on the shoreline of their favorite beaches. Their plan is to give one painting to each daughter when the time is right.

The open layout of the home lends itself to large family gatherings, which the Boones cherish and look forward to, especially now that two of their daughters are in college. Their oldest daughter, Kaitlin, is working toward a master’s at Santa Clara University, while Megan

is pursuing a bachelor’s in nursing at Dominican University in San Rafael.

The youngest daughter, Natalie, is a junior at Central Valley Christian.

Preparing dinner in the kitchen while one or more daughters tackles homework at the table in the great room is one of their favorite times of the day. “This is the central hub, where all the activity is,” Michael said. In the mornings, the family likes to gather in the breakfast nook, overlooking the water and listening to the fountain in their neighborhood, The Lakes.

Outside, entertaining is key, and their backyard and pool area are ready for guests to arrive. Several sets of tables and chairs, a large expanse of grass and an outdoor barbecue area herald the return of warmer temperatures and summer evenings on the patio. Tasteful wrought-iron fencing allows the Boones to close off areas to keep children and pets safe from both the pool and lake water.

A large downstairs basement is another hub of activity, especially when high schoolers come over. Outfitted with a Ms. Pacman video game console, pool table and plenty of couches for lounging, the space gives kids room to mingle and socialize out of earshot of adults, but still in a safe place. “We wanted the home where all the friends gather,” Andrea said. Alternately, it is a fun hangout for adults, too. 

An office in the basement also allows the two doctors to work from home when necessary. In an homage to the 1990s-era forest green hue that used to inundate the home, the Boones kept the office countertop as a throwback to the home’s original look.

Upstairs, spacious bedrooms allow for privacy while keeping the family on the same floor in the evenings. Each daughter’s bedroom reflects her personality and inclination toward the arts, as well. The benefit of surrounding their children with gorgeous artwork has been seeing their own confidence in both the visual and performing arts take hold.

Of special note is the furniture in Kaitlin’s bedroom, made by Andrea’s grandfather, a woodshop teacher. The furniture was used by Yvonne as a child, then Andrea, and now Kaitlin. 

Looking to the future, the Boones are hopeful that their daughters will return home for visits with their families.

“Someday when our kids have their families, we can all be gathered comfortably here,” Michael said. “That’s what we’ve experienced with Andrea’s parents. All the siblings gather together with their children. It will be a place where our guests are comfortable. We all pack in at Andrea’s parents’ home, but there’s still room for everyone. It makes for good family time.”

Additional artwork lines the upstairs hallways and leads guests back down-stairs toward the front door. The Boones said some guests in their home inquire about the art collection while others don’t seem to notice. Either way, they encourage homeowners to fill their walls and shelves with whatever brings them joy.

But for this couple, original art offers more than meets the eye.

“Unlike decorative art or prints, original art often has a story behind it,” Michael said. “Our contemporary paintings remind us of where and why we chose the painting and often of meeting the artist. Our historical pieces tell their own story of California before the landscapes were developed. We are blessed to be surrounded by our original art every day.”’

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