Photograph by Jason Van Ostrander
reativity and artistic vision have always defined Dana Hollister. Whether it be fashion photography, interior design, or adaptive reuse of historically relevant buildings, she has devoted her entire professional life to creating masterful unique environments.
Dana was born to forward thinking Delores, a modern artist, and Jim Hollister, an aspiring architect in Chicago, IL. Devotees of the Bauhaus Art Movement Dana’s parents raised their children steeped in art, architecture and food stamps.
As a child, Dana exhibited a voracious appetite for knowledge and a precocious gift for inventiveness. She was a whirlwind of painting and drawing and crafting and sewing. She learned tenacity from her father’s struggles, and he would always remind her to pursue her dreams. With his encouragment she always felt that everything was possible, that with hard work and perseverance she could accomplish anything.
In 1980, Dana won a full scholarship to the Chicago Art Institute after submitting a portfolio of original drawings. While at the Institute, Dana began to work as a fashion stylist for magazine photo sessions. She became passionate about pursuing photography as a career. After graduation, she opened her own studio and became successful at producing and styling for national advertising campaigns, Marshall fields, and Lord & Taylor department store chains.
In 1986, Dana sought to grow her photography business by moving it to Los Angeles. On the West Coast, however, the world of high-fashion photography proved unexpectedly difficult to break into. A lack of connections and client base, quickly resulted in the need for Dana to supplement her income. In an act of desperation she pulled out her sewing machine and began to make decorative pillows from vintage curtains she had been using as backdrops in her photo sessions.
After getting her pillows consigned in locale boutiques, they quickly became an in-demand item, a must-have accessory for designers, starlets and Hollywood wives. A year later, Dana turned this thriving pillow business into Odalisque, one of the most successful interior design firms of 1990’s Los Angeles. With a storefront on Beverly Boulevard, Odalisque featured Dana’s unique talent for creating environmental submersion.
Evoking a sense of time travel, she integrated antiques, vintage textiles, and architectural accents with a true sense of artistic flair and relevancy. Odalisque was a sensation. The client database read like a Hollywood Who’s Who list. Tom Petty, Madonna, Tim Burton, Sylvestor Stallone, Carla Gugino, John Malkovitch, Patricia Arquette, Rosetta Getty, Nicholas Cage, Rick Ruben, Anthony Keidis, and Peter Guber were all regular patrons.
While house hunting with a client in 1991, Dana visited an abandoned and dilapidated mansion in a gang infested neighborhood of Silver Lake: the old Canfield-Moreno Estate. It would prove to be a crucial turning point.
The mansion, built in 1923, was first home to silent film star Antonio Moreno and his oil heiress wife, Daisy Canfield. In the 1950s, it became a convent for an order of Franciscan nuns and later a home for troubled young women. The property was abandoned in the 1980s and was slated to be torn down if it could not be sold, having spent years on the market. While touring the property, Dana saw the estate’s intrinsic beauty and architectural mastery. She made it her mission to preserve and protect this property. Pooling together savings, loans and other available resources, Dana came up with the down payment. She moved into the property in 1998 and began its careful multi-million dollar refurbishment. She lovingly called her new home The Paramour.
Once settled, Dana realized the incredible potential of the Silver Lake community and set off to help it’s revitalization. She helped preserve neighborhood landmarks, acquired buildings and businesses that were havens for prostitution and drugs and closed them. She opened neighborhood taverns and restaurants. Her efforts were instrumental in helping launch Silver Lake’s economic renaissance.
In 2001, the defining moment of Dana’s life occurred. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Faced with a dire prognoses, she began to focus on all of the incredible things she loves in this world - beauty, creativity and artistry. Her optimistic outlook and tenacious spirit, coupled with an incredible line-up of doctors at Ceder’s Sinai Medical Center, produced an amazing result. Dana was cured of cancer. After her recuperation, she was given a clean bill of health and remains cancer-free to this day.
Once back to work, Dana decided to close her store and focus on her life’s passion, the adaptive reuse of aging and forgotten buildings. In doing so, she has preserved and created some of the most amazing spaces for public enjoyment.
A former clinic was re-imagined as Cliffs Edge Restaurant, one of the top five outdoor dining restaurants in all of Los Angeles according to LA Weekly. An old garage and machine shop became Villains Tavern, which was voted best bar in L.A. by Los Angeles magazine. A run down greasy spoon, the Brite Spot Diner, was relaunched to accolades for having the best pies in town.
Today, Dana seeks out projects that will restore historically significant architecture to its original splendor; projects that will add economic vitality while still preserving the beauty and historic relevance of our city; projects that protect and respect the intrinsic charm of our neighborhoods and elevate and create value for the entire community.