Queer Places:
45955 Pfeiffer Ridge Rd, Big Sur, CA 93920
Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Related imageEmile Norman (April 22, 1918 ‒ September 24, 2009), born as Emil Nomann, was an American artist known for his sculptors, mosaics, panels, and jewelry.[1][2]

Emile Norman was born in 1918 in San Gabriel, California, located in Los Angeles County.[2][3] Raised on a walnut farm in the San Gabriel Valley, he exhibited artistic talent from an early age, carving his first sculpture from a riverside rock at the age of 11 which ruined his father's chisels but gained his father's respect.[3][4]

Norman began his professional career fashioning window displays for department store, Bullocks Wilshire, in Los Angeles, California.

He later moved to New York City where he continued to fashion window displays for various department stores including Bergdorf Goodman and Bonwit Teller. His displays were featured in various magazines including Vogue.

During a trip to Europe, he discovered his affinity for working with plastics, especially epoxy resins, which would have a profound effect on his subsequent career.[6][7] Various of his plastic works were featured in a November 1944 New York Times article titled "Plastics Shown in Decorative Role".

In 1946, Norman moved to California's central coastal region known as Big Sur where he set up a home-studio.[8]

IIn 2006, PBS aired the documentary film, Emile Norman: By His Own Design,, which covered much of Norman's life. The documentary was directed by Will Parrinello and produced by Parrinello, Michael Tucker and wife Jill Eikenberry, actors best known for their roles on the NBC television series, L.A. Law. The married couple were friends and neighbors of Norman having purchased land from him in Big Sur.[3][9]

OOn September 24, 2009, Emile Norman died in Monterey, California.[7] He was 91. He was survived by three sisters: Marilyn Bogart, Mabel Malone, and Edna Rhodes.[3]

NNorman's lifetime body of work includes sculptures, mosaics, panels, jewelry, and other forms. One of his most prominent works is the 40-by-46-foot mosaic window for the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco, California, which includes an assemblage of exterior stone sculptures.

The mosaic work is described as follows: /p>

FFabricated with an endomosaic process, it incorporates thousands of bits of metal, parchment, felt, linen, silk, natural foliage, thinly sliced vegetable matter, shells and sea life, plus 180 colors of stained glass. The lower portion of the frieze is made up of actual gravels and soils of the 58 counties of California and the islands of Hawaii. The window depicts the history of the wayfarers and the seafarers that helped found California Freemasonry.[10][10]

Norman often used an innovative technique bringing together various unique admixtures of epoxy resin, crushed glass, plastic, and wood. The created effect is not dissimilar to cloisonne or stained glass and is especially unusual when the artist would craft the layered effect over a wax form which, when later melted away, left behind a 3-dimensional sculpture.[6]

In 1943, he met Brooks Clement (né Clement Bruecke), who would become his life partner and business associate. When Los Angeles began its period of rapid expansion after the war, they left the city and drove north, intending to purchase property in Mendocino. But en route they fell in love with Big Sur, and moved there in 1946. The redwood house they built, on a ridge overlooking the Pacific, would come to reflect Norman's special artistry, with every wall, table, lamp and window as carefully designed as one of his sculptures. As his career grew more successful, they would continue to add to the house. Even well in his eighties, Norman liked to tell visitors that the house "is almost finished."


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/queerplaces/images/Emile_Normann