One day approximately six years ago, Manhattan Beach native and local custom furniture maker Chip Herwegh no longer felt a connection with his life. For Chip, connections are at the core of who he is—whether making a connection with objects, his art or old friends. In need of a shift, he adopted a new mantra he refers to as PMA—positive mental attitude—and made some big changes.
His wife at the time said, “Chip, I don’t think you are living your best life.” In agreement, he checked himself into a rehabilitation center. After doing work on himself, he amicably left his marriage, started focusing on his art and is now “straight edge”—a subculture of the hardcore punk scene. People who refer to themselves as straight edge refrain from drinking, drugs and tobacco and may be vegan or vegetarian.
“I love going into my shop and working all day.”
“I quit and never looked back,” he explains. “One day I just realized this is how I take care of my body.” Although he acknowledges that addiction is different for everyone, Chip was ready to close the door and start the next chapter of life.
After making other people’s art for decades, it was time for him to focus on his own. At his woodworking shop in the arts district on Cypress Avenue in Hermosa Beach, Chip started to focus on new creations—from start to finish. After coming up with a concept, he puts it on paper and then builds it himself. “I love going into my shop and working all day,” he adds.
He has displayed his art at various South Bay art galleries and shows including ShockBoxx, Resin, El Segundo Art Walk and CA 101. “Though he works in three dimensions, his goal is to ultimately collapse the distinction between painting and sculpture, blurring the boundary between the two,” notes Chip’s website.
Chip’s path as an artisan was defined after college, when he realized that an office job was not for him. Chris Poindexter, a friend since his Mira Costa High School days, helped him get his first job as a set dresser on a television series. Soon he became a prop maker and a set builder, and he joined the Local 44 union for craftspeople.
At age 39, Chip retired from Hollywood in search of refining his craft. He began taking classes at Cerritos College. “Cerritos College has the best woodworking department in the state of California at almost 20,000 square feet,” he shares. His focus was on Arts and Crafts Greene & Greene furniture and architecture showcased at the famous 1909 Gamble House in Pasadena.
These days Chip’s art takes on classic fins and skate decks. He is co-owner of Gallery 208 on Manhattan Beach Boulevard in Manhattan Beach with Dennis Jarvis, who owns Spyder Surf shops. “The reason to have a gallery is to have a platform for artists so that their art can make a connection with a potential buyer,” says Chip.
A few years ago Dennis and Chip became collaborators, helping each other with their art processes. After setting up an installation in El Segundo together, the spark ignited and it was just a matter of time before the two opened a gallery. Almost 400 people came through Gallery 208 during its opening weekend in January.
From modern to abstract, the gallery will showcase established as well as emerging artists. The goal is to have new shows every four to six weeks, including a few solo shows and themed group shows.
“There are so many artists in the South Bay. Every day people come in to the gallery and want to show their art,” says Chip. Now the artist offers others a meaningful space to make a connection.