CRESCENT CITY Visual delights were on the menu for a recent Hospitality Tours visit to a former furniture showroom now dedicated to fine arts.
The complex north of Crescent City on Lake Earl Drive once housed Kuebler's Furniture.
Most of the buildings are now home to the headquarters of Hogan Studios, a national leader in stained glass windows and interior design for churches.
The other building, sharing the same parking lot, now houses The Photique portrait and photography studio.
This was Hospitality Tours' third visit to Hogan Studios, and the third time did indeed prove to be charmed.
The Hogan family does not build churches, but they provide everything that makes a building a house of God. That includes stained glass windows that sometimes make up entire walls of churches, pews, altars and other furnishings and interior design.
This year, Hogan Studios is getting into both the tourism and retail art businesses.
Beginning in July, visitors to America's Wild Rivers Coast will have the opportunity to tour the Hogan gallery and production facility to see how it became a national leader in its field.
Hospitality Tours participants got a sneak preview of such a tour Wednesday. Guided by third generation stained glass master Sean Hogan, they learned the history of the Hogan operation and how it makes its magic.
"We want tourists to see an old world studio," said Hogan. It really has old world roots.
Hogan's grandfather was apprenticed to an Irish master, Harry Clark, in Dublin in 1945.
He immigrated to the United States with "five kids and $5," said Hogan, and settled in the San Jose, Calif., area.
Hogan said that when his grandfather died in 1975, family members went their own way for a time, but are now back together in the studio operation owned by Sean's father Roger.
Clients include churches in Del Norte County, the West Coast and throughout the country.
Hogan studios is known for its expertise in large projects, such as stained glass walls that weigh tons.
When designing interiors, Hogan said, the studio works with the only manufacturer that makes curved pews.
Stained glass is still hand made in Hogan Studios by masters who all began as apprentices. Hogan said he leaded his first window when he was 8 years old.
Each window is a work of art, and so many people asked for prints of the windows that the Hogans now offer high-quality reproductions, matted and framed in the studio.
The gallery consists mainly of framed prints, but a few windows awaiting restoration were also on display.
The lead solder that holds a window together breaks down after a century, Hogan said, so the studio restores stained glass.
Hogan said they also replace stained glass damaged by vandalism. The new windows can be protected with a clear barrier.
Other windows cannot be touched from the outside. When remodeling churches, the Hogans sometimes build windows into false walls and artificially light them from behind.
With light under their control, the Hogans can cast a brilliant beam down from the heavens onto Christ.
They can also manipulate natural light to cast images that move across a sanctuary during the day.
"We're designing a whole environment," Hogan said.
Chairs in the gallery are actually short pew samples, and the studio's conference table and furniture show the types of woods the studio uses.
Hogan took participants through the production process from computer design to hand -built models to the room where glass is cut, assembled and soldered.
For those who want to try their own hand at making stained glass, Hogan Studios will soon offer classes.
Call toll-free at (888) 464-7900 or locally at (707) 464-7909 for information.
Tours will begin in July after an open house, and will include a 12 minute video on the history and process of Hogan Studios.
Participants got another kind of visual treat at The Photique. It lived up to its name as a photography boutique.
Founded in 1979 by Jerry Critz, The Photique offers portraits, wedding pictures, passport photos and even "olde tyme" portraits.
Customers can pose on an old wagon or even a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Many costumes are available.
Critz said the size of the studio and its bay doors allow people to bring their cars in as backdrops.
The business is now passing to son Paul, and has recently gone totally digital. The only darkroom is now a computer.
"I like to think of us as state of the art," said Paul. "The quality is fantastic."
Digital also allows portraits to exceed reality, said Jerry. One family loved its group portrait, except for the lack of a smile on one family member, he said.
The computer solution was to take a smile from another photo of the person and put it in the group portrait.
"You can't believe anything is real anymore," laughed Jerry.
Participants also enjoyed seeing Critz's old camera collection. Jerry said he started collecting cameras in 1969 when he first got out of the Navy.
He ran across an old folding Kodak camera at a swap meet in California. One dollar later, he had the start of his museum.
Antique cameras are not worth a lot, said Jerry, except for a 1954 Leica that Paul took home and still uses.
Paul said he is still learning all the computer tricks involved in digital photography.
After the customer proofs the portraits on computer, the prints are actually made at a professional lab in Missouri and shipped overnight.
For information, call toll-free (800) 899-7513, locally at (707) 464-7513, or check out the Web site at http:// www.photique.net.
The beauty of "Baja Oregon"
Tour participants were welcomed at the Del Norte Senior Center for lunch. "I hope you're enjoying your trip to Baja Oregon," said the announcer.
After lunch, participants drove to a lagoon on the edge of Lake Earl to see Bev Overstreet's garden.
Tour director Jan Norwood said Overstreet is highly regarded in Crescent City fuchsia circles.
Overstreet showed one fuchsia bush where the flowers sprouted directly out of the main stems. It came from a clipping in a San Francisco park.
Norwood also encouraged participants to stop off at Florence Keller County Park while taking Elk Valley Road from Lake Earl Drive back to U.S. Highway 101.
The park has camping facilities and hiking trails throughout a redwood forest.
The next Hospitality Tour will be held May 19. Call Norwood at (541) 469-4909 to reserve a spot.