Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Emile Norman, RIP

Masonic Auditorium, San Francisco (photo from the SF Chronicle)

It's been a sad week for Bay Area arts. Don Fisher died last week and so did Emile Norman. He was 91 years old and had been living in Monterey, California since the 60's. He was a sculptor, jewelry, and mosaic artist whose most well-known work is the massive mosaic and relief sculpture adorning the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco. He was a pioneer in his art and his life, living as an openly gay man with his partner for life, Brooks Clement.

"But Mr. Norman's independent spirit was always a driving force. In 1961, he summoned up the courage to leave the New York art scene for good, having had several gallery shows there, and he opened a gallery of his own in Carmel. With his life and business partner, Brooks Clement (right, rear), Mr. Norman settled into a house in Big Sur that they built themselves. The home became a never-ending design project. At a time when being out was almost unheard of, Mr. Norman and Clement lived openly as gay men. The fact that they were a couple was also a rarity for the times." Norman's relationship with Brooks Clement lasted 30 years, until the latter's death from cancer in 1973. To friends in Big Sur, the two became one with a single signature, "Clemile," decades before anyone thought gay men would ever be able to get married in California."

Clement died in 1973.

The film on Emile, "By His Own Design," is a tribute to a gentle soul whose followed his own muse with integrity and dignity.

1 comment:

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