Just this past September 1st, Gregg Sullivan opened up his Art and Surf Co. shop on the 4800 block of Voltaire Street in OB. The unassuming part of the shop is painted white – but it’s next to a brightly-painted inviting inner area with some art pieces, plants, and a fire pit.
“I support the arts and push my passion for surfing,” he told me yesterday when I stopped by to check out his spread and asked ‘why?’.
In a most unusual and unique blend of art and surfing accessories, Gregg has pulled out all the stops in bringing some culture to OB’s secondary business district. And at times, it’s apparent it needs it. Gregg’s shop sits just a thrown wrapper away from OB’s Jack in the Box, near the busy intersection of Voltaire and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. Voltaire has always played a second fiddle to the main business district on Newport Avenue. Yet the street definitely has its charms, and Gregg’s place really raised the bar.
Gregg has surf boards next to art displays in a shop that he designed and pretty much built by his lonesome with the help of a few others.
Gregg is an artist himself, mainly working in the medium of pen and pencil, but he also designs and builds artistic furniture. He showed me his coffee table, just sitting there acting like a coffee table – but with a price tag on it. It’s a unique, only issue coffee table, with not one in the world exactly like it.
Some of the surfboards themselves, are works of art. Like the board that greets you when you first walk in. Gregg’s boards are made by Boone Rogers and Blake Tremble, plus he has made some himself.
About a month ago, Gregg told me, he had an art show for local Celeste Byers, whose own unusual presentations liven up the inside and outside of his shop. “The Chair” was one of my favorites of Byers work, although some of her beautiful material adorns the walls, right next to surfboards all lined up for sale.
Gregg’s is hosting another art show on February 15th to showcase art by Mele Saile.
Growing up in Huntington Beach, and living most of his life in Orange County, Gregg has been surfing since a kid. He graduated from the School of Environmental Design at Cal Poly in 1979. Wanting to move to San Diego, someone told he should check out Ocean Beach. He did – eleven years ago – and he’s been here ever since. He bought the property he’s now in back then, which included two small cottages and the store front.
When he bought the properties, the Green Store – OB’s venerable center of holistic environmentalism – was in the storefront. He definitely supported what Colleen Dietzel and Kip Kruegar were doing, and allowed them to continue their store for a very inexpensive rent. For years.
Finally, Gregg figured out what he wanted to do after his work in the housing market crashed along with the market back in 2008. He figured out he wanted to combine his two favorites – surfing and art. Sadly, he had to ask the Green Store to leave – which they did and opened up another store just down the block from the shop. The Green Store folks totally understood, appreciating all the years they paid him the little he asked.
Future plans? Gregg is considering bringing in prepackaged food to sell in his shop. And he’ll keep having art shows monthly.