Larry and Janet Everitt, artist owners of Idyllwild’s Everitt’s Minerals and Gallery on North Circle, met by chance and formed a relationship based on a shared fascination with rocks, stones and fossils.
“We met in D.C. I walked into Larry’s gallery in Georgetown,” said Janet. “He had these antique Japanese woodblock prints. One of our first activities together was walking the beaches of Calvert County, [Maryland] looking for shark’s teeth and then for fossils at Calvert Cliffs.” So began [apologies for the pun] a rock-solid relationship, as Larry and Janet soon expanded their prospecting to include minerals and semi-precious stones. “We were dating and digging,” said Janet.
More exploration led them to the Morefield Mine in Amelia, Virginia. Morefield is a world-class amazonite location and is referenced in many books on rocks and minerals. It is one of the few operating mines in the U.S. where collecting is allowed on a regular basis. The Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History has a full-sized diorama of the mine, constructed of minerals from the mine.
“Visiting that mine sparked our interest in having a mine of our own,” said Janet.
“Our target was not to just dig for economic plunder but to dig in safety and, most importantly, to preserve the integrity of mineral specimens,” said Larry. “It’s a lot like archeology where you dig around the specimen and lift it out.” They both explained that when they found stones of value it was hard to find people to cut and set them, so they learned how to do so, becoming expert lapidaries and silversmiths in the process.
While on vacation in the west, doing rock “hounding,” Larry saw an ad in the California Mining Journal for turquoise mines in Nevada. The couple had been checking out ads for mines in both Virginia and Nevada. They bought the Godber Turquoise Mine, with four claims, near Austin, Nevada. “We relocated to Austin, a town of 300, from Georgetown in 1990,” said Janet. “It was a big change. Austin was 100 miles away from the next town and on what is advertised as ‘the loneliest highway in America.’” Said Larry, “We opened a live-work storefront business on the highway. It was like the Wild West, a rancher and Indian culture of the 19th century. We submerged ourselves in the culture and our mining activities and remained there for nine years.”
It was an enormous change for two sophisticated urban people. Larry, born in La Habra, California, had had galleries in Manhattan and Georgetown. Janet had graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in communications and had worked teaching the hearing-impaired. Janet also worked archeology digs as a sketch artist and illustrator.
But characteristic of their shared spirit of exploring and adventure, they thrived in the Nevada outback, perfecting their craft and creating exquisite jewelry from stones they mined themselves.
Fast forward to Idyllwild where the Everitts opened their present gallery in 1998, retaining one of their claims in Nevada as a personal source for mining turquoise. Simultaneously, they had a gallery in the tawny environs of El Paseo in Palm Desert from 2004 to 2006.
Everitt’s Minerals and Gallery features their handmade jewelry and designs, exotic mineral specimens, rare fossils and antique Japanese woodblock prints that date from the Shogun’s military administration in the 1800s.
Their gallery is divided into two sections — their stones, jewelry and collections on the left and, on the right, art of 14 other fine artists from Idyllwild and surrounding areas. That art includes ceramics, fine paintings and bronze sculptures. “We are proud to have satisfied return customers from around the world,” said Janet.
The Everitts are modest about their fascinating career and relationship path, and about the art they create. They are gracious and friendly and their art speaks for itself. It is luminous, nuanced and made of history — of the earth and its cultures. One of the fascinating things Larry creates are pendants containing ancient pieces of Native American Anasazi pottery shards, set in silver with a polished piece of turquoise as part of the setting. If you wear the Anasazi pieces, you are wearing the history of a vanished culture. If you wear the Everitts’ semi-precious stone jewelry, you are wearing the history of the Earth itself.
For more information on the Everitts, visit www.everittsminerals.com.