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Dale Evers: Ever growing

The hand-blown glass jellyfish sculpture is a functioning lamp.
The hand-blown glass jellyfish sculpture is a functioning lamp.

Dale Evers’ life path has always led him to the sea. He grew up immersed in the surf culture of San Diego. Later, while serving in the Army’s 25th Infantry Division, he was stationed in Hawaii. He finally settled down in San Luis Obispo County after an Army buddy suggested he visit the area.

“I’ve been in the water my entire life,” he said. “I’ve always been a junkie for experiencing nature.”

Art is Evers’ other love. He began sculpting in wood around the age of 10. His first gallery sale was a carving of a minke whale that sold at a Cambria gallery 32 years ago.

In his mid-30s, he fused his two passions when he conceived the vision for a coffee table sculpture called “Dolphin Duet,” which features two bronze dolphins cavorting under glass. The 98 pieces in that limited edition series sold out, launching his well-known line of nature-inspired sculptures, tables, lighting and garden art.

More than 20 years later, functional art pieces still account for more than half his sales.

“I’d been paying attention to functional art my whole life, but there was nobody doing it at a hardcore level,” he said.

Evers’ work marries realism and fantasy, capturing the grace and beauty of the natural world. Glowing jellyfish become a hand-blown glass floor lamp, their sinuous tentacles captured in bronze. An otter breaks the surface of a glass coffee table, adrift in a bed of kelp. Subjects for his garden art range from fantastic flying fish, to dragonflies and dung beetles.

At the height of his popularity, Evers had his own foundry in Morro Bay to keep up with the volume of his work. He also owned his own gallery. He has sold more than 20,000 sculptures and 1,000 table sculptures in his career. His commissions have included pieces for the United States Olympic Committee, the Alaska Airlines Memorial in Seattle, and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.

Several years ago, Evers put on the brakes, partly because of burnout and partly because of the economy. He relocated to North County and works at a much slower pace.

“I was selling so much art when I was in my 30s, it was just mind-numbing,” he said. “Now I’d rather do more complicated, challenging pieces and just have fun doing it.”

Evers still offers pieces for sale at his Paso Robles studio, and takes commissions. But his new, scaledback operation allows him to branch out in new directions. He created two series of sculptures influenced by indigenous Mexican culture called Zapopan Jalisco.

He is also working on an ambitious public art project with the goal of installing 50 large-scale wind chimes around the North County wine region. A 36-foot wind chime is up at the intersection of Highway 46 West and Vineyard Drive. Two more are in the works. And if Evers’ knack for putting his vision into practice persists, the other 47 will not be far behind.

Dale Evers Design Studio is at 1000 Park St. in Paso Robles. Call for an appointment, 434-9237.