A view of the property where art will soon live for the community to see. Photo by Dean Sullivan
A story is unfolding at 5th and El Morro streets in Los Osos. It all began 20 years ago when artist Ted Emrick, known for his multi-media art and custom glasswork, drew out the plans for a piece of property he didn’t yet own.
“I’ve been visualizing what to do with this lot for 20 years,” said Ted of the land across the street from his home. “I always imagined I would build an art garden out here for my clients to come and take a look — to show off my work because a lot of my sculptures are outdoor sculptures.”
For the past two decades, life moved on with Ted investing in the community through raising a daughter, supporting his family and making a name as an artist, being a soccer and basketball coach, hosting climate festivals and teaching his craft at Morro Bay High School.
“It hasn’t always been about my art,” he said. “It’s about what the art does with the community and being invested in the community.”
After about four decades surviving and thriving in the art world with shows in galleries in Aspen, Santa Fe, Los Olivos, San Francisco, Hawaii and well-known patrons including Apple, Caesar’s Palace, Allegretto Vineyard Resort, and a number of other high-end hotels, COVID hit, closing many galleries in the height of the pandemic.
“I was thinking about retiring at the beginning of the year,” Ted,64, said. “I thought ‘that was a good 40 year run,’ and, I got really depressed. I just knew, I’m supposed to be doing this.”
About six months ago, after the passing of his mother, Ted began to pursue the dream that had been in his mind and on paper for so many years. He purchased the property, gave his daughter, Sierra, half of the site to build her first home on and then embarked on his new “creative adventure.”
“I’ve always envisioned this to be a place to show my and other artists’ work,” Ted said.
It is hard to miss Ted’s first contribution to the future art space— an arch with a redwood door with a 7-foot diameter glass piece that features seashells, starfish and ocean designs done through a process called slumping. The technic uses molds, heat, and gravity, to form glass into shapes and take on various textures.
In the works is are driftwood dividers, a fence and a low stucco wall with decorative tiles that will surround the property with a few additional niches featuring Ted’s smaller doors opening to the sculpture garden that will grow inside showcasing multiple artists.
“Even the wall and fence has to be a creative adventure,” Ted said.
Future plans include tours given by artists, art walks with students, and becoming part of the SLO County Art Council’s Open Studios event.
“We might have events here, or lectures or just keeping people invested and involved in the arts,” Ted said.
Hopefully that interest will lead to sells as well. The sculpture garden will be a working one with pieces available for purchase.
“Everything is for sell,” Ted said. “As an artist, to survive, you can’t be attached. You just make pieces with as much love and consciousness as you can, and then that’s made to go away. I’m going to be creating art my entire life. So this is just the way we have fun. If I can sell a piece, I’m successful, and if I can inspire someone, even more.”
All the galleries and accolades in the art world aside, Emrick said most of his gratification surrounds “being able to survive as an artists and to show my daughter and my students that this can happen. I was a professional artist, and I am noted for that. It’s really interesting, but at this point (in life), what I’m most proud of is being part of a community as this working artists and how I fit into the matrix as part of what makes it special.”
Ted holds three degrees in art: one in two-dimensional art, another in three-dimensional art and a BFA from San Francisco’s Art Institute. He was recognized as Alumni of the Year by Cuesta College in 2017, an achievement that meant a lot to him on many levels.
“I struggled through school; I’m dyslexic,” he said. “This is kind of like my vocabulary. This is how I write stories.”
To see more of Emrick’s work in person, check out Harmony Glassworks in Harmony or go to his website at www.tedleeemrick.com.