While perhaps not exactly fitting the mold of dynasties of the past, the Hawthorne’s are just that—a dynasty of talented and successful artists, whose family members work across many mediums including sculpting, ceramics, jewelry, painting, glass, and architecture.
It all started with siblings Gregory, Christopher and Lisa Hawthorne, who were raised outside of Detroit, Michigan by an architect father and bookkeeping mother—a combination of influences that lent both creativity and business sensibility to the three Hawthorne children.
The movement west and the start of the artistic dynasty all began with eldest brother Gregory Hawthorne, who after studying pre-med had to make a choice between art and medicine, and ultimately chose art.
With an entrepreneurial spirit, Greg realized early that by working hard and producing copious amounts of work at a fair price, he could realize his ultimate goal—to make a living off his creativity.
Starting like many young artists on a tight budget, Greg bought painting supplies as he could afford them and sold in art shows around the country. He knew he had made the right decision, when during a show in Florida in the early 1970s, he sold 21 paintings in two hours. Greg never looked back and has been working as a successful artist ever since.
In 1982, Greg came to California to do several shows in Palm Springs. Falling in love with California’s majestic views and the Pacific Ocean, Greg and his and wife Susan moved to Big Sur, where they currently live and work out of his studio overlooking the ocean.
Realizing the potential of the area and desiring the ability to control how his work is viewed and sold, in 1995 Greg fulfilled his long-time goal of opening the Hawthorne Gallery near his home and studio along Highway 1 in Big Sur, California.
But Greg isn’t the only artist success story in the family. Younger brother Chris is also a successful glass artist and in 2010, after 15 prosperous years of the Hawthorne Gallery in Big Sur, the brothers developed a gallery and restaurant along the unadulterated Southern Oregon coast in Port Orford—a location that, like Big Sur, has proven to be the perfect intersection for the meeting of commercial potential with the stunning environment.
Chris Hawthorne first left the Midwest for the skiing in the mountains of Colorado after high school. He and his wife Julie ultimately traveled west to Southern Oregon in 1974 to take advantage of the affordable property value along the Pacific Coast where they purchased a home on the Sixes River.
Chris was first introduced to flat glass during his time in Colorado and began to develop work in that medium during his early days in Oregon.
Through a fortunate 1978 introduction to glass artist, Dale Chihuly, Chris began to blow glass at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, WA. This led to the creation of his glass shop on the Sixes River in 1985, where Chris still blows glass today and which has served as an educational environment and creative outlet for the second generation of Hawthorne children.
Youngest sister Lisa has developed a career as a successful jewelry artist. Lisa first formed her interest in jewelry during a “Design in Metals” class in high school in the early 1970s, inspiring her to take metal forging classes at the Cranbrook Academy in Birmingham, Michigan, while simultaneously managing two high rise apartment buildings outside of Detroit.
Deciding management was not for her, Lisa left for the Virgin Islands to teach sailing and run a boutique, where she met her sculptor husband, Steve Kuntz.
Lisa and Steve ended up settling on the Southern Oregon Coast after visiting older brother Chris outside of Port Orford. The trip inspired the couple to buy property just north of Port Orford, in Coquille, Oregon, where they have lived since.
Upon moving to Oregon, Lisa started exploring wood sculpture alongside Steve, but after having her daughter in 1988, she found wielding a chainsaw proved difficult with an infant, and reverted to her past passion of jewelry.
With the desire to use more color, Lisa began incorporating enamels into her metal designs, which are a key part of her designs today.
Perhaps most compelling about the three Hawthorne siblings is not that they have all become successful artists in their own right, but that they also all married other creatively-driven and artistic spouses, weaving even stronger artistic fibers into the family makeup.
Greg married his early love, Susan, the Hawthorne Gallery’s in-house photographer and graphic designer. Chris’ wife Julie, whom he was friends with since a young age, is a ceramicist and Lisa’s husband Steve, whom she met sailing in the Virgin Islands was already an established wood sculptor.
The combination of so many creative genes means that now, decades later, there is a second generation of artists who have come to age in the Hawthorne clan.
Greg and Susan’s son Taylor Hawthorne, a graduate from Rhode Island School of Design, is an artist working in steel, cast glass and painting. Their daughter Shelby is studying glass at the California College of Art in Oakland, and has studied at Pilchuck, the alma mater of her uncle Chris.
Chris and Julie’s son Daemian works as a painter and is a graduate of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Daughter Lena, a graduate of the Interior Architecture department of the University of Oregon, is currently focusing on developing a product line based on interior design, furniture, textiles, and lighting.
Steve Kuntz’s son Terry has continued in his father’s footsteps working in wood sculpture while Lisa and Steve’s daughter Sierra is currently studying product design at the University of Oregon, creating the perfect recipe for collaboration with her cousin Lena in the future.
Always looking forward, the Hawthorne’s will continue the quality and originality with the upcoming generation and, hopefully, keep the creative magic alive for many years to come.
Pictured left to right (standing): Steve Kuntz, Evan Leeson, Susan Hawthorne, Gregory Hawthorne, James Taylor, Mike Kuntz, Lisa Hawthorne, Chris Hawthorne, Julie Hawthorne, Daemian Hawthorne, Kate Fowler, Taylor Hawthorne, Terry Kuntz, (seated) Shelby Hawthorne, Sarah Talbott and Lena Hawthorne.