Tiles on the Isle

In 1927, William Wrigley Jr. prompted the Santa Catalina Island Company to invest in the creation of the Catalina Tile Factory after discovering clay deposits on the island. While the operation lasted only 10 years, it turned out tiles and decorative ware that were cherished by collectors.In 1997, 60 years after the factory closed its doors, Cynthia Seider brought back the art of tile painting to Avalon for a cause that she cherishes.

A board member with the Los Angeles Sephardic Home for the Aging (LASHA) and chair of its youth-supported program, The Next Generation, Seider was instrumental in developing a fundraising project to establish a tiled garden for the residents, visiting families and caregivers at the Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda.

“Cynthia gave us the idea, and she’s really worked hard on it,” says Rae Cohen.With the help of fellow LASHA board members like Cohen and Rose Benon, Seider lugged several boxes of tiles, paint and brushes to Catalina.

“Knowing that Catalina has been a very special place for many in the Sephardic community, I thought it was apropos to kick it off there,” says Seider.

With tables set up in the Pavilion Lodge’s courtyard, people of all ages came to support the cause. They painted pictures of the beach, the sun and the Casino.

“The little kids did their handprints, painted boats. They painted anything they thought of,” says Cohen.By the end of the event, the Sephardic community had donated the first 75 tiles to the garden project.”We’ve had several painting parties since Catalina with different themes,” says Seider. “When I look back at the thousand tiles that we’ve completed to date, our Catalina project really stands out.”

After three years of planning and fundraising, the garden’s naming and groundbreaking ceremony will take place on Sun., Sept. 24.

For more information about LASHA, The Next Generation or the groundbreaking ceremony, call (818) 774-3330. – Adam Wills, Associate Editor