WALK INTO Jon Stevenson’s Carmichael home and you’ll see art everywhere you look. In the kitchen. The hallways. Even the bathrooms.
For Stevenson, the creator of the Trumpette baby-fashion brand, art is both an obsession and a necessity. He simply can’t imagine life without it.
“Art is what gives a house its ambience and warmth,” says Stevenson, who shares his home with his husband, former antiques dealer John Silici, and their three dogs.
Stevenson was living in San Francisco when he began collecting art in the early 1980s. He bought his first major piece—a black-and-white photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe—for $600. Today, he says, that photo (a study of tulips) is worth $100,000.
His taste in art is wide-ranging, modern, eclectic, whimsical and bold. He collects paintings, photography, sculpture and ceramics. He likes black. He likes white. He also likes color. And he’s attracted to graphic art. The one thing you won’t find in his home? Landscapes. “I’m not into landscapes,” he says.
Photography is a particular obsession. Stevenson has works by Diane Arbus and fashion photographer Richard Avedon along with Mapplethorpe. In one Avedon photo hanging in the living room, supermodel Iman reclines languorously on the floor, legs crossed, wearing only a pair of thigh-high boots. In another, a young Caroline Kennedy gazes at her newborn brother, John Jr.
With its white, gallerylike walls, the living room is a perfect place to display Stevenson’s art. There’s a large black-and-white photo of Zsa Zsa Gabor, taken by Sacramento photographer Jesse Bravo, and a kinetic sculpture of a female figure made of brass, copper and stainless steel. Wind it up and the figure strides in place. Niches flanking the fireplace hold metal and ceramic sculptures, including a bronze gun sculpture by Gale Hart.
Stevenson’s wit and love of graphics are evident throughout the house. An original Keith Haring hangs in the master bathroom. In the dressing room, over the closet door, a message on the wall reads “Edith Head gives good wardrobe.” And a hall bathroom that Stevenson paneled in plywood has this message in letters: “This bathroom is not under construction.”
When he moved to Sacramento 15 years ago, Stevenson began collecting pieces by local artists, including Wayne Thiebaud, Gregory Kondos, Jesse Bravo and Ronald Peetz. One piece by Peetz—a men’s suit jacket covered in white paint and called, appropriately, “Coat of Paint”—hangs in a hallway.
Stevenson buys art wherever he finds it: at galleries, Crocker fundraisers, dusty estate sales. He doesn’t know how many pieces he owns—“Maybe 100? Probably 200? I don’t know. I’ve never counted”—but says he’s started to let parts of his collection go. Last year, he began selling some of his artwork online. “I probably have too much art,” he says. “At this stage in my life, I’d rather have one fabulous piece than 10 so-so pieces.”