If you didn't know her you'd think she was a brand-obsessed fashionista. A recent Facebook post stated triumphantly, "New milestone: shopped with GILT app while walking. Didn't get hit by car".
This exceptional woman is surprisingly self-deprecating. Taking me through her closet, she whispers deadpan: "My biggest fear is that I'll look like a crazed cartoon character". Nodding to her, I admit to myself that Pamela does sometimes remind me of Edna Mode from The Incredibles…she just doesn’t call everyone Dahling and she is definitely a much kinder soul. This lady’s wry sense of humor is more often than not directed at herself and is usually used when describing a personal weakness or amusing pecadillo. Such as the revelation that she’s guilty of the act of tsundoku, (which by the way means leaving a pile of books unread after purchasing).
Yet she is a calmly confident Mom who freely states she does not hover or dote, but does make sure her offspring eat (mostly) local organically grown food. Oh and she does force them to go with she and her husband David to museums, gallery openings and to meet living artists. The latter she emphatically describes as a critical parenting imperative. Despite the kids’ bitter complaining, the exposure is rubbing off. By the sounds of things, they’re starting to find expression in establishing their own unique aesthetic in their dorm rooms and bedrooms at home.
A pair of Andy Warhol photographs in her son's room, a Chuck Close in the kitchen, a Hung Liu lithograph waiting patiently to be hung in the dining room. It is not a self-congratulatory smugness you sense when she speaks about her volunteerism at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford, but a genuine excitement and appreciation of the museum's upcoming programs and events. You feel she just wants to share the enthusiasm.
Pamela has four kids, each two years apart. The eldest is 18 and now off at college on the east coast, the second is at boarding school also on the east coast. The 2 youngest are still at middle school in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gone are the dinner times when 6 voices shouted simultaneously, vying to tell their stories. Evenings à table, chez Hornik are now more subdued with only two children at home, but the 6 continue to enjoy traveling together as a group when school vacation times permit.
Aside from sharing with their kids an intense passion around art, the Horniks have built and nurtured cohesion by being politically active as a family. Several years ago they rallied together to express their disagreement with California Proposition 8, (a politically-charged agenda item created by opponents of same-sex marriage). "One of my fondest memories was when we stood one night on the corner of El Camino Real and Embarcadero and held up our No On Prop 8 posters together."
As often happens when I chat with Pamela, I’m amazed she never worked in the fashion industry. Motherhood simply took her down a different path. While we talk, she decides to donate a Prada dress to the Fashion Project and recounts painstakingly how she came to make this fashion blunder and how someone else WILL love this dress. Whenever we get together it’s clear to me that this woman loves and respects fashion as she does art.
"I'm always in pursuit of the unique and I like to take fashion risks" she states simply, hinting at a defense of a recent fascination with goat leather. A person who has accumulated some iconic pieces over the years, she shares a recent light bulb moment: "When I packed up my wardrobe before our house remodel, I only had access to a few very basic pieces. A few tunics in black and beige linen, a great pair of Goldsign dark wash jeans, a few white shirts, a black cashmere cardigan, some leggings and a Fog Linen scarf. And that's all I really needed. I realized then and there, what a terrible consumer I'd been".
As part of a recent art project where her daughter was asked to depict each family member as a fruit, Pamela was thrilled to be drawn as a dragonfruit. "My daughter saw me as someone unique”.
So what are Pamela's goals for the future? She answers swiftly, "To live simply, lifestyle-wise and closet-wise. Walk more. Consume less. Only problem is”, she sighs, “I'm always a sucker for a GILT flash sale...."
Art by Amy Kauffman, Hung Liu, Chuck Close, Andy Warhol. Sculpture by Nils Folk Anderson.