Local ceramic artist Guyla Amyx find long-lost trove of scuptures

Hidden treasures are always great to find and if the treasure is a trove of unseen artworks from decades before — even better.

That’s kind of what happened recently to Morro Bay ceramics artist, Guyla Amyx, who was trying to put together some of her many artworks for a featured artist show at the Morro Bay Art Association’s Art Center Gallery. 

“I didn’t want a rehash of the past,” Amyx says while sitting in her Morro Bay home filled with ceramic artworks by herself, and paintings in different mediums done by her artist-painter and husband Chet Amyx. 

She calls it serendipitous that she looked into several big, wooden crates that had sat outside in the weather for years. The crates were from a show she did 20-years ago in Laramie, Wyo., and they almost tossed them out.

“They paid for all the shipping,” she explains. That’s unusual for a gallery to do, but since they were willing, she crated the artworks up and sent them off. When the show was over, they were shipped back and, well, forgotten.

The crates were in a storage unit for years, and when they closed it out, they brought everything home. The crates then sat on the side of their house with a tarp over them, says Guyla, who was a ceramics instructor at Cuesta College from 1988 to 2010 when she retired. 

“I said, ‘Let’s get rid of those crates,’” she explains. “I had forgotten what was in them.”

Inside she discovered a treasure trove of ceramic sculptures that she had never shown anywhere locally. “I thought, ‘This is perfect,’” for the Art Association show. She added a few more pieces and what ensued was an exhibit of some pretty unusual, and even a little creepy ceramic works, many with a “house” theme.

“The house shape is very enigmatic,” she says. With some of the pieces she’d taken strips of white clay and wrapped the houses, and one she covered in bone shapes.

Her idea was to bind the houses, inspired from yogis who wrap cloth around their eyes, ears and mouths, to block out the senses. She did one where the wraps looked like the wind, which sold right away, while the others went into the crates.

She says that teaching was her main way to pay the bills but acknowledges that many artists have to scrap around doing pieces that will easily sell or taking commissions. “It pays the rent,” she laughs. “It’s great to make sales, but I didn’t want to be caught up making art solely for the sales. Galleries will do that to you.” 

She feels fortunate. “I guess I’ve been lucky,” she says, “but I kind of got smart about it a long time ago.”

So are there any other treasures stowed away? Could be. “I have work all over the place,” she says, “stored in bins, the studio — all over the house.”

Their backyard garden has art pieces as well, including some life-sized human figures, and of all things — feet.

Of her work, one could say it is unusual, colorful, dramatic and maybe even a little shocking.

She earned a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from Washington State University and a master’s in fine arts as well. At 71, she’s been a teacher and artist for more than 50 years. 

Landing the job at Cuesta in 1988 allowed them to settle down in Morro Bay. They shared a studio on Buchon Street in San Luis Obispo for many years, too.

Their home is very much an art gallery. Stair landings feature her sculptures, and his paintings in various mediums hang everywhere. 

But it was those crates and the rediscovery of forgotten treasures that are the newest additions. “That’s why the house is so crowded,” she laughs.

The Amyx’s have a website that is a showcase (not a sales site) of Guyla’s, Chet’s and his late-father’s artworks (see: www.amyxart.com). If readers see something that intrigues them, they can contact her through the website (chetamyx@charter.net) and arrange a private showing.