Inside Tania Katan's Midcentury Modern Ralph Haver Ranch Home in Phoenix
Tania Katan calls herself a "Producer of Shenanigans." The title is fitting, as the writer, performer, and program coordinator at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is tasked with bringing artists and performers to audiences in order to captivate, inspire, and get a little crazy at story-sharing events like Lit Lounge.
Evie Carpenter Tania Katan reads in her living room, which prominently features art by Angela Ellsworth above the couch, as well as pieces by Suzanne Falk, Jennifer Campbell, and Nick Shindell.
Although the shows she produces run on a healthy amount of playful chaos, her home and creative atmosphere are a bit more deliberate.
"I don't just buy crap for the sake of it," the 40-year-old says. "All the objects in my space have meaning and stories."
Currently, Katan is hard at work producing "The Most of" Lit Lounge, which happens on June 26 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The show will feature poet-performer-activist Sonya Renee Taylor, The Moth Grand Slam winner Jessica Lee Williamson, and comedic actress Annabelle Gurwitch.
Evie Carpenter Tania Katan sits in front of art by Angela Ellsworth.
Katan fell in love with the Midcentury Modern architecture of her ranch home in Phoenix's Rancho Ventura neighborhood. The home, designed by architect Ralph Haver, has served as everything from a space where Katan hosted writing workshops to a studio space for her wife, artist Angela Ellsworth.
When she works or writes, Katan likes to occupy spaces that don't have the unfortunately routine feel of an office. The layout of her living room allows the freedom to explore small changes to the scenery -- like switching up seating arrangements -- which keeps her mindset fresh.
"I love my day job at the museum so much, and it connects with my other job of writing and performing. Everything bleeds into the house in a good way. My creative mind doesn't stop because I left a studio space," says Katan. "I carry that lens of seeing things all the time."
When she's at home reading the New York Times and sees someone she knows mentioned in the paper, Katan uses it as an opportunity to offer an invitation to perform in Lit Lounge.
"I guess for me, creative space isn't relegated to a literal space that I always go to. It's more fluid and happening all the time."
There are several colorful and beautifully suprising focal points all around Katan's living room, but perhaps the biggest pull on any visitor's eyes comes from the black and white, almost still artwork that rests above her couch. The pieces, by Ellsworth, are based on walks the artist took. Thousands of tiny hatchmarks chronicle a single step in her many five-mile walks around Phoenix. SMoCA also has a sister piece that lives in the museum's permanent collection.
Evie Carpenter Upon entering Katan's home, guests are greeted by Angela Ellsworth's balled belts at the foot of a large mirror.
Katan's entire space is filled with stories. Her living room bookshelf has displays of diverse pieces of art that each have their own rhyme, reason, and connection to the performer.
The bookshelf is home to everything from performance artist Ryan McNamara's piece entitled Where Babies Come From, in which McNamara took haunting portraits with his mother at JC Penny and put the images on small plates, to artist Suzanne Falk's in heaven, everything is fine. Falk's work, depicting naked men touching each other, was intriguing to Katan for a few reasons.
In 2012, artist Randy Slack's art show, Chaos Theory 13, declined to showcase Falk's in heaven, everything is fine. Until then, Falk's art was known for depicting hyper-realistic, soft and innocent images of baby animals, children, and cartoon characters. in heaven was a response to a review Falk received from New Times art critic Kathleen Vanesian in 2010, who noted, "I just wish [Falk] would venture out of her comfort zone and mix a little acid with the sweetness of her nostalgic still-lifes."
"All I knew was that this painting existed and there was some controversy around it and that it was boys with penises. I thought, I must see it. I must hear the real story. Then I decided to own it."