Angi Curreri and Rick Yasko have integrated an appetite for the eclectic with their life’s work in art, education, and landscape architecture in their Florida sanctuary.
Angi Curreri and Rick Yasko’s talents and interests span a wide range. For Curreri, that includes ceramics, installations, collage, and drawing; for Yasko, it encompasses drawing, painting, landscape architecture, and horticulture. The well-traveled couple’s cheerful Casa Currasko (an amalgam of their names) reflects this diverse and open-minded approach to art and life.
Tell us about your home. Where do you live?
Angi Curreri: We bought our house in Fort Lauderdale a few months after we married in 1986. It’s a modest house, built in 1949, which is old by Florida standards, and we were drawn by all of the beautiful old trees here. Rick was teaching at several colleges to the north, and I was already teaching at Barry University to the south, so the location was perfect. We thought it was our starter house, but as the house grew and changed with us over the years, we were content, so we stayed put.
How do you decide which objects to bring into your home – and where to put them?
Curreri: What ends up in our home is an organic process that is always evolving and changing, like our garden. We started out buying antiques, for example, but quickly became intrigued by 1950s furnishings, which were much more fun, affordable, and accommodating to our lifestyle. We tend to group like things together, and I love to sort things by color. Objects move in and out of favor. We give things away to family and friends when we find something new we cannot resist, or I move them to school for my still-life collection.
There are a lot of vintage ceramics in your home.
Curreri: We bought most when we were furnishing our house and used to go to a lot of antique malls and thrift stores. We both love flowers, so a lot of them are vases. These objects have appeared in many of Rick’s drawings over the years, as well as in my 2D tile work and drawings. They’ve also influenced my ceramic forms in many different ways.
So they act as “functioning decoration,” as exemplified by Charles and Ray Eames. Travel also seems to play a role here …
Curreri: Travel has played a major role in our lives, influencing our work, our home, and how we cook and eat. For many years we have been traveling to Europe as often as possible, most recently Spain; we fell in love with Barcelona. Early in our marriage we traveled to Mexico a lot. We would take an empty half-trunk to Mérida in the Yucatán and come home with as many objects as we could carry: angels (my choice), devils (Rick’s choice), and skeletons (both of us), ceramics, wood, papier mâché, glass, and basketry.
Rick Yasko: I do gravitate to Mexican diablos and Catrina figures. I can associate with their playfulness and lack of reverence. The craftsmen seem to have a good time poking fun at traditions and the religious aspects of the tableaus, and have an easy time contemporizing the subjects.
Curreri: We try to never have expectations. I tend to buy a lot of artist-made jewelry and beads, which are easy to pack and store, but we have been known to trudge through Europe with ceramics that we bought at the beginning of a trip.
Who collects what?
Curreri: The bar glasses and cocktail shakers are definitely Rick’s, while I’m more possessed by things Catholic, such as milagros, ex-votos [both are votive offerings], holy water fonts, shrines, and Madonnas. I’m drawn to their spiritual significance and love to see them on location in churches around the world. I have physically and metaphorically incorporated them into my ceramics and drawings ever since I first bought a few milagros in Mexico in the ’80s.
Is there a favorite thing you’ve made for your home that you could tell us about?
Curreri: It would have to be my tile work. There are 25 running feet on the backsplash made up of 12 sections, each carved from a slab of red clay and then divided into tiles. The imagery is of birds on orange tree branches, bringing what we love outside our house inside.
Yasko: I guess it’s obvious that my main contribution has been the outdoor garden and living spaces, and the abundant harvest of fruits and vegetables that we have throughout the year.
The landscape around the house is extraordinary.
Yasko: When we moved here, my main intent was to develop a shade canopy using trees that might provide an edible landscape. About 12 years ago, I decided to move in a different direction and to provide shelter and food sources for the local wildlife. Eventually I worked to have the property certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, and, in the process, became a wildlife steward through Broward County’s NatureScape project. I was also recognized through county and state offices for having a “Florida-friendly yard” that reduces maintenance requirements and diminishes needs for irrigation. Now, we enjoy numerous songbirds, hummingbirds, parrots, bees, and butterflies that visit us and call this urban pocket their home. There’s an abundant presence of mammals and reptiles as well, which is all pretty cool to have on a lot that’s considerably less than 10,000 square feet.
The clay studio is outside, too. How is it to work there?
Curreri: I love having the clay studio, which is actually a large metal shed, in our yard. It has always been important to both of us to be able to do our artwork at home, especially since commuting is a reality for our jobs. We have workspace in the house, too: Rick has a drawing studio in the garage, and I have a “clean” studio inside where I do my collages and drawings.
With all of these inviting nooks, where do you most like to spend your time?
Curreri: The beauty of living in a small house is that every bit of it is well used and well loved.
Caroline Hannah is a design historian in New York. She and photographer Elizabeth Felicella last collaborated for American Craft on “Crafting Manhattan,” a walking tour of midcentury sights, inspired by the Museum of Arts and Design’s “Crafting Modernism” exhibition.