The Gallery at Land’s End is a quaint, hidden gem of a store tucked away on the North end of Pacific Beach in San Diego. From custom framing to local art pieces, handmade jewelry, and hand-crafted gifts, this boutique has it all. Privately owned for more than 40 years, the Gallery has made its mark in the small, tight-knit community it calls home; owner Thayne Yungman personally handcrafts all custom frames and makes it a point to stock the store with the most interesting and unique arts & crafts he can find.
40 Years in the Making
Vicki Ford and husband Jay opened the Gallery at Land’s End as a custom framing shop and art gallery in 1973; what began as a small business out of an old homey bungalow in Pacific Beach has become a beloved community favorite for locally-made crafts, jewelry, and art. The quaint little shop is rich in history as well as heart: having had only two owners since its inception, those involved with the Gallery have seen it through more than 40 years of adaptation, evolution, and ups and downs. The current owner, Thayne Yungman, was an employee of Vicki’s until 2008 when he bought the business, and he’s been working on increasing its local profile and artistic image ever since.
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Custom-Made Frames and Carpentry
The Gallery sold prints and posters in the 60s and 70s (mostly limited editions and vintage, as well as some lithographs and silk screens); back then, people would simply come in and ask if they did framing – essentially beginning the custom framing business aspect for them. Yungman measures, saws, and creates every frame from scratch in the personal woodworking studio that he set up behind the store, and ensures that he gets to know each one of his customers – and their artwork – on a personal level. That small business vibe is apparent from the moment you walk into the Gallery, from the beautiful handmade crafts to the customer-friendly table for framing consults in the back.
Woodwork seems to come naturally to Yungman: his father refinishes church pews for a living, and he was exposed to the craft at an early age. Though he didn’t grow up thinking he’d be in the business, Yungman went to college for photography and now focuses purely on woodwork, which he believes is the best of both worlds – a balance between the more aesthetic art world and the tough, incredibly rewarding and at times exhausting, manual labor aspect of carpentry. He uses only instruments that are controlled by hand, many of which date back several years and have been replaced with computers in most businesses.
A Labor of Love
Recently, Yungman has focused on supporting local artists and hosting small art exhibitions at the store, a process which he refers to as a “labor of love;” though it’s a lot of work, it’s something he wants to do to support his community and the love he has for where he calls home. All of the store’s locally curated gifts and jewelry are handmade in San Diego, and he and his employees spend a lot of time looking for artists around the community they like and would like to sell.
What’s Next for the Gallery?
The gallery has come full circle since its inception in ’73 – they’re back to selling frames and art and are working on continuing to expand their brand name. Ultimately, Yungman says he’s looking to develop an intimate line of high-end stuff, almost like a curated museum. In fact, he’s currently working with an artist who manufactures handmade soaps from premium (and locally sourced) beer. Getting to know the artists and developing personal relationships with them is just one of the perks of his job; now, he’s just hoping to gain more exposure around the area through art exhibits and networking with local artists.
Current projects that you’ll find for sale in the store include custom made candle holders made from old wood wine barrels and mirror frames, which Yungman gathered reclaimed wood from an old San Diego bait barge to create. He’s hoping to hold at least six art shows a year (generally one every other month).
To check out what this place is all about, visit the Gallery at Land’s End at 4984 Cass Street, San Diego 92109 Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am to 5pm.
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