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Image of Erna and the author by the chapel's stained glass window.
Erna and the author by the chapel's stained glass window in 1992.

How Art Shapes Our Lives: Five Stars in the Mountains

By Sal Maccarone

During the year 1990 I was just finishing up work for the grand opening of the Marriott Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp. I had signed up for a big scope of things to do, and that made the project exciting because of the art that I was allowed to create. The owners and design team of the original Tenaya Lodge were all wonderful to work with. I learned a lot from them, and we went on to become good friends!

Image of a provincial walnut desk.

Provincial walnut desk

As a result of Tenaya Lodge project, I had the good fortune of meeting a lady named Erna who had a hotel of her own in mind to build. Here it is thirty years later, and it still seems like yesterday. Erna Kubin was assembling a team of artists, each experts in their own field, to execute her meticulous plan. She knew exactly what she wanted, and we were happy to help her get there.

For a year and a half, Erna and I worked together designing eighty pieces of furniture and some of the architectural elements for the Chateau du Sureau. Together we produced a notebook which contained the designs for the furniture, and the window & door layouts for the main building. It was an intense year and a half to say the least because all along I was building the things that we were designing. It was an exhilarating experience; I grew a lot artistically!

Image of a Honduras Mahogany Doors And Walnut Buffet.

Honduran mahogany doors and walnut buffet

In the end, my shop produced eighty pieces of furniture, the great room centerpiece, twenty Honduras mahogany passageway doors & appropriate mouldings, (including the front doors), and the chapel stained glass window. Most of these pieces were designed within the French provincial style; a style that spanned about 800 years. That gave us a lot to choose from! Each piece was distressed, which was an inventive process in itself. I used to ask Erna, “how many years old do you want this to look?” And then she would approve each piece before I applied the final series of finishes. Because the provincial style spanned such a long time, I was able to use a variety of wood species throughout including: Walnut, Honduras mahogany, cherry, maple, vermilion and willow.

Image of a great room center piece.

Great room center piece

Through every stage of the production, from concept to the final product and then beyond, Erna did a marvelous job with her vision. I am proud to have been a part of what is already a famous historic property here in the Sierras.

Sal Maccarone






Image of a willow corner hutch.

Willow corner hutch










Image of a cherry armoire.

Cherry armoire










Image of Erna and the author by the chapel's stained glass window.

Erna and the author by the chapel’s stained glass window in 1992.

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