Ed Hart has lived in Newport Beach for nearly 40 years.
He lives on a quiet street in the Newport Height’s neighborhood of the city, in a house he built himself 38 years ago.
It’s a home that draws your attention.
It’s really not Ed’s house itself that catches your eye. It’s a pretty traditional Newport beach cottage. What you see around his home is what grabs you.
What Ed’s home has a lot of, simply put, is Art.
Hart is a long time sculptor, and he really got going after he retired 18 years ago.
Now his home and garage are full of his work, and it overflows out into the yards.
If you’re a neighbor or have driven by the place, you probable already have noticed.
And although Ed and his art have been in the neighborhood for some time, the kind of response Ed say’s he’s been getting for years from his neighbors showed up in his mailbox this past Tuesday.
An unsigned note read, “To the artist in this house, thank you so much for having so many pieces outside for the people passing through your neighborhood to enjoy.”
The note writer didn’t leave a name, but the words were heartfelt “your art brings a smile to our faces.”
It wasn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened, he says.
People he doesn’t know routinely stop by and ask to see his art all the time. Ed says he enjoys showing it to them.
“Sometimes they ask to take pictures or have me show them around.”
The Newport Height’s neighborhood where Hart lives is one of the city’s oldest. It’s sits on a large bluff just above the harbor and Coast Highway, bounded by Newport Boulevard on the north and the Castaways on the south, with Costa Mesa to the east. The area is best known for the city’s first and oldest high school, Newport Harbor High.
Over the years, the small cottage homes like Hart’s have made way for large multi-million dollar homes that now dominate the quaint tree-lined streets.
Ed’s house is also just around the corner from Newport Heights Elementary School. Adults walk or drive by, as do kids on their way to and from school. They routinely stop to check out the art that dots Hart’s property.
But figuring out what exactly you’re looking at is not always as easy.
Tall human-like figures adorn the front and side yards and the back garage on an alley. The open garage and alley doubles as a kind of impromptu showroom of Ed’s whimsical and flowing wood sculptures.
Hart works with both fiberglass and wood. He says in the art world his creations are officially known as “abstract” works. Whatever you call them, you can see they are clearly expressing Hart’s human touch. The wood sculptures are cut and laminated from a variety of exotic woods. They take time a lot of time to conceive and construct. Ed has a lot of that these days.
Other sculptures are made of wire and fiberglass and coated with resin. A variety of colors and poses bring them to life.
When I stopped by to talk to Ed earlier this week, he was as friendly and welcoming as any neighbor could be. He showed me around his studio and home. Inside and out, his home was full of his sculptures. Art was everywhere you could step or see.
I asked Ed where his inspiration came from.
“Well, I always loved art, and started doing it a long time ago” he says.
Ed taught art and woodshop for the Garden Grove school district until he retired. Since then he’s been doing mostly his art and sculpture.
He even makes a little money from it now and then. One of Ed’s pieces can garner anywhere from a couple thousand dollars up to nearly $10,000. His elaborate wood sculptures are the most expensive.
Over the years, his sculptures have been shown in art galleries and shows across the country, from Beverly Hills to New York City. Hart’s pieces have also been found just south of Newport Beach, in Laguna Beach, over the years. His sculptures will be at the local city-sponsored art show on April 14 at the Oasis Senior Center in Corona del Mar.
These days, Ed says, he likes to stick close to home where he “can easily drive to.”
This weekend Hart is off to the low desert and Indian Wells where his sculptures will be on display at Indian Wells Art Festival.