An eclectic, creative space, with coastal vibe art, showcasing all mediums, is how Penny Rothschild describes Emerald C Gallery. Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Penny moved to San Diego 14 years ago and came to Coronado after marrying her husband David. Her diverse employment background includes time as an airline stewardess, disc jockey, sales and marketing rep, and mental health counselor. The creative bug in her was fostered by her mother, a fine oil painting artist, and she’s always painted for fun. Switching gears, she started designing handbags and belts and had a jewelry line called Penny Candy.
With quite a storied past, the Emerald C Gallery building caught Penny’s eye while dining at The Brigantine seven years ago. It was built in 1888, as the carriage house for Elisha Babcock, one of the original Hotel del Coronado founders with his main residence next door in the current El Cordova Hotel. The building has also housed the El Cordova garage and a host of other businesses through the years, including a CrossFit gym.
“We had just a few days’ notice to close down for the COVID-19 crisis,” she says. After being shuttered for three months, she has been open just three weeks now. Since tourists comprise her main customers, she is hopeful that they will return with the reopening of The Del and the warm summer months. “With 4,000 square feet of room to social distance, we sell all types of beautiful art from bronze, glass, fiber, painted rocks, mosaics, jewelry to a wide array of visual art,” she highlights. She also stocks books by local authors. Greeting cards, especially Hotel del Coronado-themed ones, are top sellers.
“I originally planned to sell high end resale furniture, but saw a need in Coronado to sell art, so I put out a call for artists on Craigslist and many artists responded due to a need for a place to display their pieces,” comments Penny. Now, artists find her by word of mouth. She currently represents 52 artists, with about 60 percent of those from Coronado. She has an incredible stable of talent, including internationally known outdoor stoneware artist Doug Snider, and Yuriy Akopov, a mosaic glass artist, and many others. One local artist who I met was oil painter Jim Nix, a retired federal fire captain, who was slated to attend art school when he was called up during the Vietnam draft, and then spent four years in the Navy. Throughout the years, he has been a prolific scenery painter and displays his work at Spreckels Park, which is where Penny found him. He is also a member of the Coronado Art Association as are some of her other artists.
There is a lot going on at Emerald C as they gear up post-lockdown with safety precautions. Penny is excited to present “Exhale,” their upcoming “3 on 3” art exhibition with three local talented artists, Jody Esquer, Jenna Raskin-Moreines, and Heather Frank. It will begin on July 3, from 6 to 8 pm, with 10 guests allowed in the gallery at a time with required masks. The show will run through the end of the month. On July 4, the Brigantine will close off the parking lot for outdoor dining with live music and new art on display at Emerald C Gallery.
Penny is working on ways to safely continue her popular events, like “Wine and Paint” on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, with reservations required. The family friendly open-mic night is usually held the last Thursday of the month and features a variety of talent including jugglers, kids, piano selections, and comedians. Penny says that kids’ summer camps won’t be possible this year, but they can offer smaller, private classes, such a recent Girl Scout art workshop. Prior to the shutdown, she was actively offering free classes for senior and military families, as well as giving monthly art classes at the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter, and to ARC of San Diego special needs kids, but she has yet to determine if those can resume. She also partnered with The Del to offer “Painting by the Sea” classes every Saturday in season and holidays, and coordinated The Del’s kids’ art program, which she hopes will resume shortly as the hotel reopens.
Upcoming plans include increasing the number of Coronado artists displaying and selling their works at the gallery and ramping up classes with limited numbers and social distancing in place. “I look forward to resuming our full spectrum of activities and shows as safety permits.” Fortunately, they have the outdoor creative space where they can conduct pottery, mosaic, ceramic and other artistic workshops. “I also plan to get the kilns back out to offer pottery classes,” she comments.
Last year, after Penny saw a need for more music in Coronado, she and Jennifer Franks received a grant and co-founded the first Coronado Music Festival. The popular three-day event featured dozens of musical groups around town and unfortunately will have to be put on hold this year.
Being a bit off the Orange Avenue main drag, behind the Brigantine, Emerald C Gallery is located at 1331 Orange Ave and promises to be an enjoyable excursion with a wide array of unique pieces to delight the visual senses of all ages, from serious landscapes, exquisite glasswork, meditative hearts, clever t-shirts, to humorous giraffes, you will most certainly find something for yourself and gifts for friends and family. Emerald C Gallery is open daily, except Mondays, from 10 am to 6 pm. For more information, check out their Facebook page or website at www.emeraldc.com or call 619-996-3315. Emerald C Gallery most definitely lives up to its tagline “The Gem by the Sea.”