Painter Beth Ames Swartz turned her home into a gallery - East Valley Tribune: At Home

Painter Beth Ames Swartz turned her home into a gallery

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Posted: Friday, May 11, 2007 2:49 pm | Updated: 7:25 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Painter Beth Ames Swartz can be destructive.

The Paradise Valley artist made a name for herself with her fire series in the 1970s. She created abstract pieces symbolizing life, death and rebirth using a screwdriver to mutilate paper, throwing layers of paint on it and burning it.

Painter Beth Ames Swartz can be destructive.

The Paradise Valley artist made a name for herself with her fire series in the 1970s. She created abstract pieces symbolizing life, death and rebirth using a screwdriver to mutilate paper, throwing layers of paint on it and burning it.

“The idea is no matter what you experience in life, you can make it beautiful,” says Swartz, 71. “You use anything that happens in life to teach you and to learn about love and compassion.”

Swartz’s home is undergoing a rebirth of its own. Swartz raised her children in this 1,700-square-foot house, one of the few midcentury modern homes still standing in Paradise Valley. Now, her home in the desert is becoming a gallery of sorts (http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/video/22',%20330,365);" class="content-link">video).

The paintings Swartz has been able to buy back from collectors all over the world adorn brightly painted walls. Her floors are a lightly colored wood with soundproofing beneath them. Track lighting illuminates each painting, creating the gallery experience. Each room is an ode to a different period in Swartz’s prolific career.

“I always keep moving things around,” says Swartz. “You don’t ever see the same paintings when you come back.”

When Swartz moved into this home in 1957, the roads around it were unpaved and the desert was a step outside her front door. Her neighbors were bands of cactuses, creosote bushes and many retirees.

“It was sort of like Greta Garbo land 35 years ago when the kids were very small,” says Swartz.

Swartz hates to shop, so her home is filled with vintage furniture amassed through the years. She's had this couch since moving into her home in 1957. It's been upholstered several times. The pillows are from Crate & Barrel, and she acquired the throw blanket during a trip to the Galapagos Islands. (Paul O'Neill, Tribune)

Swartz began renovating her home in 1998. She and her husband, John Rothschild, wanted to keep the interior decor true to the home’s 1950s architecture. The couple shopped at vintage stores for pieces such as the Bertoia chairs in the living room.

A vintage red couch that Swartz has owned since moving into the house sits in the living room along with an original Noguchi table (circa 1924) from Herman Miller. Over on the fireplace, Swartz has amassed a collection of Buddha statues, pieces she picked up while in Thailand as a guest of the government. Paintings from her “Shen Qi” series hang on the walls of the living room. Look closely and you will see healing symbols hidden beneath the patterns.

Fresh-cut orchids in vases sit on almost every table.

“I love fresh-cut flowers,” says Swartz. “I’ve never understood why people living in million-dollar homes have fake flowers.”

Her kitchen is modern European, and the dining room leading to it is painted bright red. A table designed by Arizona artist Kevin Irvin is flanked by four upholstered chairs that Swartz rescued. The walls are an appropriate background for two paintings from her series “A Story for the Eleventh Hour.”

“My work is like a thread,” says Swartz. “A chronicle, or a residue of my life and my studying and my thinking.”

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