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Big Sur's artsy art gallery | Bartell's Backroads

The visual experience goes beyond art at the Hawthorne Gallery in Big Sur.

BIG SUR, Calif. — If Mother Nature was an artist, Big Sur would be her masterpiece, which is one reason the Hawthorne Gallery set up shop along scenic Highway 1.

Shelby Hawthorne comes from a long line of artists. Her mom and dad opened the gallery in 1995 and now her aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins showcase their creativity there.

“We have 24 different artists; 11 in my family,” said Hawthorn.

From Shelby’s fused glass work to her father Gregory’s colorful contemporary paintings, the gallery is sort of a mixed bag of art and that's how the Hawthornes like it.

“It's not just contemporary art. Not like 'this is a red dot on paper, pay me $20k.' There is time, effort and craftsmanship in them,” said Hawthorn.

The building housing the art is also a work of art. Built by legendary architect Mickey Meunnig, the wooden arched ceiling and the glass covered walls offer open spaces with a great view of the ocean. The building attracts a lot of people driving down Highway 1, including Neil Young and the late Robin Williams. 

“He actually got down on all fours next to the dog and started making all the weird sounds, and I was like, 'OMG this is Robin Williams!'” said Hawthorne.

Even if you're not in the market for art, Shelby and her family will gladly welcome you in to admire the work and they’ll even give you a local's guide to exploring Big Sur.

“[It] doesn’t really matter if you buy something. I want to talk about the art or the cool hike you went on,” said Hawthorne.

The Hawthorne Gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

MORE ART ON THE BACKROADS: The main attraction in the desert town of Olancha is an open-air interpretive metal art display.

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