Right, Jennifer Dumas and Lotar Ziesling, owners of historic Rancho Lojento, can seat many at the farm table that used to hold fashion merchandise at a Santa Barbara clothing boutique. Above left, here’s looking at you: Rancho Lojento features numerous examples of antiques, American folk art, European fine art and whimsical works that bring a smile…but don’t try to get into a blinking contest with this rare collage.

Art & antique rich Rancho Lojento open for SCV Hospice Home Tour

April 16, 2008
Santa Paula News
The legendary Lady of South Mountain - her much loved patrician profile proudly gracing the mountaintop above Santa Paula - has some neighbors who, like her, have a strong connection with nature. But visitors to Jennifer Dumas and Lotar Ziesing’s historic ranch (18450 South Mountain Road) will see that they also connect with art and antiques - finds from Paris to stateside garage sales - and that amid the wild they have also created an art gallery near their avocado green home with the tomato red door. The Dumas/Ziesing ranch will be featured at the 25th Annual Santa Clara Valley Hospice/Home Support Group Homes & Art of Santa Paula Tour on Sunday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Expanded over a century to its present 1,800 square feet, the Victorian cottage was built in 1898 by a Santa Paula merchant above his name-bearing Morgan Creek. A trumpet vine hugs the three-car garage, and the branches of an oak tree shade the rustic front yard leading to the home, where a deck with vintage patio seating overlooks the Santa Clara River Valley.The 20-acre ranch is home to numerous native flowering plants, many mature oaks, tipu, towering sycamore and pepper trees, as well as a cactus garden. Jennifer has an all-natural garden of “whatever we can fit in the boxes,” usually heirloom and rare varieties, and a large variety of fruit trees dot the property.The theme of the house, now known as Rancho Lojento (for Lotar and Jennifer), is “catch as catch can,” says Jennifer with a laugh. “It’s our ‘what can you buy on a budget’ house... everything in the house we found” at bargain prices and carefully restored if needed.Just inside the tomato red door are the dining area and kitchen, the latter right out of the 1940s when it was added to the home. Remodeled in 2004, Jennifer and Lotar didn’t part with the vintage six-burner O’Keefe and Merritt stove, although they did add hardwood floors and new cabinets.“We wanted a real fireplace, and when we removed the fake there was a real fireplace behind it,” as well as the old stone hearth underneath it. The couple seats guests at a long, shabby chic 19th century farm table “acquired from a dress shop in Montecito” that Jennifer says was used for clothing display.The most predominant feature of the home is art and antiques, a natural, as Lotar has a decorative arts and antique business. The visual impact of their collections - art and objects from Jennifer and Lotar’s travels around the world - is electrifying: an 18th century Santos from Mexico, 19th century French furnishings, fascinating German Bauhaus collages, bronze Modernist sculpture from Italy; everywhere in every room where the eye falls are art and antiques with a distinctively eclectic flair - such as the cement Faux Bois console acquired at a flea market.A 19th century French allegorical painting after the style of William Bougereux hangs in the sunny living room, juxtaposed with a Modern Basquiat style painting by New York artist Victor Matthews. “I found a postcard for this painting,” Jennifer says of the Bougereux, an oversized nude with the artist’s signature blurred figure of a lucky Peeping Tom, or is he?The bedroom displays 17th century floral and architectural etchings near a 19th century French country dresser. An oversized carved crucifix is an antique acquired in Brazil. The study, added in the 1950s, features overflowing floor to ceiling bookshelves, a 19th century French sleigh bed, and zebra skin rug.Jennifer says that Lotar’s business has its challenges: “When you live with someone always swapping stuff, things disappear.... I came home one night and the dining room table was gone,” with guests expected momentarily.Jennifer believes that the best part of Rancho Lojento is “It offers the most spectacular view of the valley, giving you the feeling of being far away from urban life.... The ranch is a very private and serene place.”
Jennifer says that exhibiting concurrently with the home tour at the Kunstbarn Gallery - formerly a barn converted into a display area - will be the “Magical Visions of La Fortune Felix,” a self-taught Haitian artist and Voodoo (Houngan) priest, whose work has been exhibited throughout the US and France. “Mr. Felix paints his spirit visions,” says Jennifer. “His work is filled with the figures he meets in his dreams.”On Tour Day, Rancho Lojento will also feature a collection of restored, vintage travel trailers, a nostalgic reminder of how people “got away from it all” in decades past.Also featured Tour Day are Nancy and Gary Nasalroad’s hillside home (756 Montclair Drive), which offers “to the ocean” views, and hundreds of Mediterranean and native California plants and trees.Fine living indoors and out marks Brenda and Ray Padgett’s spacious home (600 Monte Vista Drive), with special areas for work and play, including a nostalgic Pez collection in the grandkids’ room!A noted watercolorist and art instructor, Dorothy Orr’s newly created second story studio at her home (1334 Fern Oaks Drive) brings the outdoors inside and inspires her award-winning artworks.At the Juarez home (1320 Holly Road), rich pop culture is reflected in the hundreds of lunchboxes collected by Carlos, and traditional beauty with Ukrainian painted eggs, a unique art passed on to Heidi by her grandmother.The special Art Walk on Holly Drive, opportunity drawings, plant sale and refreshments are also a part of the Tour, held to benefit the always-free services provided by the non-profit SCV Hospice.Advance tickets at $20 each ($25 “at the door” on Tour Day) are available in Santa Paula at the Chamber of Commerce (200 N. 10th St.), Santa Paula Times (944 E. Main St.), John Nichols Gallery (916 E. Main St.), and the Glen Tavern Inn (134 N. Mill St.).Advance tickets at $20 each are also available by mail: make checks payable to SCV Hospice/Home Support Group, PO Box 365, Santa Paula, CA 93061. Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. For more information call SCV Hospice/Home Support Group at 525-1333.

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