The Art of the Home Gallery: Nicola Takes us on a tour in her Bernal Heights Art House

Nicola Noelle Buffa has worked with some of our clients at LOCZIdesign to create custom conceptual textile pieces for their home. She is a traditionally trained fine artist, highly skilled third generation seamstress, treasure collector, and master of domesticity. Hailing from Orange County, Nicola admits to coveting her SoCal rockabilly roots in addition to her MFA in printmaking, and two Bachelor of Art degrees in psychology and art. But if those combinations aren't exciting enough for you, head to her home gallery for an intimate peek at her various exhibitions. She has a keen ability to create vignettes that transport you into a time and space that isn't necessary linear with a time known before. I was greeted by Nicola on a sunny Monday morning with offerings of cakes and coffee, making the interview and photo shoot in her Bernal Heights home more than delightful.

What is your favorite part of your home?

"The view of my bedroom window, it points South East where I see the inteior of the bay. Downtown Oakland is straight across too and I love the loading docks. The industrial area below is inspiring to me, and all of the sounds which are sometimes other worldly — I feel transported. It translates into the work I do... I feel really blessed to live in such a dynamic and rich city with an amazing view from my window."

So what made you decide to display your work at home instead of a traditional gallery?

"My house showcases a revolving collection. Living with the work is really what I cherish about having an Art House. Most of what I make is domestic in nature. That streatches across many mediums and modes, but I am almost always making things that at some point will 'need a home' . So it seems very natural to me to have the pieces displayed in a domestic setting. Not to say that I don’t jive with galleries; I do, it's just that showing in a gallery is a totally different animal to me. I like to spend a lot of time with a piece...that’s hard to do in a gallery.

My collection consists of a mix of things I have made, objects I am re-finishing, spaces and places I am creating (in response for specific client's needs), in addition to a modest collection of my peers works. I like to think of this house as an emporium of oddities or an orphanage for cast-aways. Kind of like a 'Fun-House' or doll house."


Where do you get your inspirations?

"My grandmother, Betty Buffa. After she passed away, I've come to understand her a lot more and thus understand myself much more. For Christmas she would give me the most amazing treasures... I remember one year she gave me a box of beautiful fabrics all folded perfectly — my grandmother kept everything cataloged. I notice that my attention to detail in my curation of things, fine motor skills, handiwork, and dollhouse collections are all similarities in my character that I have attribute to grandmother. I remember her house being a very magical place!

What about your mother? Did those characteristics skip a generation, or is she similar?

My mother is an art historian. She is a painter and she used to make all of my clothes as a child. I would describe my mother as ethereal — other worldly. My grandmother however was a very grounded woman, a Home Economics major (although what she really was, was an engineer but of course women weren't commonly considered engineers back then). My mother’s sense of housepotality, and my grandmother’s mid-centry domesticity most certainly translate into the spaces I create but they don't speak to my grandmother and mother’s experience. They speaks to who I am. It's my own narrative.

Tell me more about Printmaking — that's kind of impressive.

"Ha, thanks! Yes, I'm a trained Printmaker and an Inter-disciplinarian. I am only a painter in theory, though never in practice. 'Bump-it Mafia' (a feminist printing group interested in women in non traditional mechanical roles of production) is where you can find a selection of my printmaking skills on display. I was invited by other print-making associates to participate. We currently have a show touring in the South and in Europe. They've put together a portfolio of different print making women. Each printed piece of paper transforms our idenities by what we call 'putting it all on'. Kind of like how I am with tattoo-ing, tooth gelled diamonds, and my psychobilly, rockabilly, and punk rock roots. You can’t come out of orange country without being a little like that. I mean, Bumb-it Mafia comes from the Bump-it hair accessory that gives you that huge bee-hive effect — 'We say, the higher the hair the closer the God.'"

To contact Nicola Noelle Buffa's ROCKabilly SweatSHOP check out her website here, or send an e-mail to for: Fine Art, Prints & Books, Found Objects, Custom Framing, Installations, Home & Gallery, Conceptual Curtains /Window Treatments and too much more to type here! Nicola’s work can currently be seen touring with Bump-it Mafia. But if you can't wait for a private showing at her house, check out her window installation currently up at The Little Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St, San Francisco, w/ collaborator Natalia Gomez. The full exhibition, including animation, takes place December 2012.