Moonglow in Bird Rock: From plumbing to fine art, this craftsman’s a fixture in La Jolla
• Mike Glancy’s creativity is displayed in many ways. Every year, except one in the past 20, he’s designed and entered a float in the La Jolla Christmas Parade, winning first place three times. His entry for this year’s Surf and Sand theme was “Surfin’ and Fixin’ La Jolla’s Bowls.”
By Linda Hutchison
It’s hard to miss Moonglow Design as you drive through north Bird Rock near the traffic circle on La Jolla Boulevard and Camino de la Costa. Whether lit up by sunlight, street light, store light or moonlight, a changing display of carved dolphins, tall statues, plants and signs leaps out at you from the art gallery’s patio.
On summer days and evenings, you’re also likely to see people gathered on the patio listening to music, sipping wine and enjoying the art, complements of owner Mike Glancy.
“It’s taken awhile to evolve,” said Glancy, who has been showcasing local artists for 20 years in the Bird Rock location. His Moonglow Design gallery features approximately 12 area artists and includes paintings, sculpture (wood, stone, bronze) and etched glass. The artists sell to art lovers and collectors or work on commission for home or business owners.
“My first artist was a woodcarver, who worked at the side of the building for five years,” Glancy said. “As you know, chainsaws make a lot of noise and finally a neighbor complained.” The artist now works in an industrial park, but in the meantime, other artists have drifted in through the years and asked if they could exhibit.
What many people don’t see at first when they drive by is Glancy’s other business, also located in the building — the Erling Rohde Plumbing Company. The business was founded in the early 1900s by Glancy’s maternal grandfather and great uncle in downtown San Diego. Eager to move to a quieter area, the brothers relocated to La Jolla in 1910.
According to Glancy, it is one of the oldest companies in La Jolla and has been listed in the La Jolla Blue Book since 1937. First located in the Arcade Building, the business moved to several other buildings on Girard Avenue throughout the years.
Glancy started working for the company in the 1970s after a stint in Vietnam and going through a 5-year union training program. “I always knew I was going to be a plumber,” he said. Although he grew up in La Mesa, he was an avid surfer and enjoyed combining work with catching a few waves at WindanSea.
He also attended San Diego State University on the GI Bill, studying philosophy, art and aesthetics, his favorite class. He especially enjoyed traveling through Europe with his wife and bringing back photographs of famous works of art and architecture to share with his class. Although not an artist himself, Glancy appreciates creativity and enjoys helping artists. “Art is a tough way to make a living,” he said.
His idea for an art gallery started to grow before he moved to Bird Rock, while still on Girard Avenue. “I got more into selling high-end kitchen designs in my plumbing showroom,” he said. “We featured several glass artists. Their etched glass went into windows, shower doors, decorations in homes, restaurants and even hotels, like the Hotel Del.” He also featured another artist who painted and glazed ceramic sinks and faucet handles.
When Glancy had a chance to move his plumbing business to its current location in 1993, he realized the building on La Jolla Boulevard was perfect for both the business and a gallery – full of rooms and nooks and crannies to display art. ”I cut out some walls and put in the etched glass,” he said.
Recently one of his three daughters joined the plumbing business, so the gallery can be open the public more hours.
Moonglow Design and Erling Rohde Plumbing Company
• 5763 La Jolla Blvd. in Bird Rock area of La Jolla
• (858) 454-4250
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