Emile Norman

Not many people can say they have a working pipe organ built into their homes. Emile Norman was a rare one. 

"The house is art in itself," says Kim Stemler, a board member of the newly formed Emile Norman Arts Foundation. Stemler is aptly commenting on the recently purchased house of Emile Norman, the Big Sur artist known for his mosaics, sculptures and woodwork. And his house, located on Pfeiffer Ridge Road in Big Sur, has the artist's fingerprints all over it, with inlaid wood details at every corner, a gallery, handmade furniture and a pipe organ. 

The house was purchased by the Community Association of Big Sur, for $2.1 million and they just closed escrow on the late-artist's house in late February. CABS purchased the house on behalf of foundation which only became a formal nonprofit last fall. "[The foundation] is taking the reigns from here," says CABS Executive Director Butch Kronlund. 

Though buying the house was a recent event, long conversations on continuing Norman's legacy have been ongoing. "It's been two years since we've been talking about how to make his vision come true," Stemler says. That vision was Norman's wish that his house would continue to be a place for inspiration for other artists—not just visual artist like him either, but musicians too.

Stemler says the foundation has created two committees to iron out the details of an artists-in-residence program, one for visual art and the other for music. "Although [Norman] was a visual artist he loved music," Stemler says. (Hence the giant organ.)

How the program will work or even a rough outline is not public yet, but the house will serve as an incubator and studio rather than a venue or stage. "It's not going to be like a museum open to the public," Stemler says. "It's going to be more like a launching pad, and we'll find way to share those ideas with the world." 

Marielle Argueza is a staff writer and calendar editor for the Weekly. She covers education, immigration and culture. Additionally, she covers the areas of Marina and South County. She occasionally writes about food and runs the internship program.

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