The pre-Halloween “Art After Dark” event at Oceanside Museum of Art on Oct. 28 was full of eye-popping surprises. For starters, there was a 30-foot airplane parked outside, courtesy of artist Dustin Otterbach. Inside, mixing with hundreds of costumed guests and nonstop DJ music, there were burlesque and flash-mob dancers, trapeze artists, and “Beauties Beasts,” a pop-up sideshow of pinup paintings by Olivia De Berardinis and sculpted monsters by Jordu Schell.
For quieter contemplation, and a complete change of pace, there was also “The Art of Russell Forester” (1920-2002) — architect, painter, sculptor and longtime La Jollan.
Born in Idaho, Forester lived in La Jolla from the age of five. His mother was a librarian at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and he started out as a draftsman for noted modernist Lloyd Ruocco, designing barges and depots during WW II. He and his first wife, Eleanor, met while working for Ruocco; his first office as an architect was at 633 Pearl Street, and his commissions included homes for prominent La Jollans like Danah Fayman and Jacob and Rita Bronowski, as well as the first Jack in the Box restaurant for Bob Peterson.
In his 50s, divorced and remarried, he gave up architecture and devoted himself to a full-time career as an artist, leaving his firm in the hands of his second wife, and fellow architect, Christine. Many of the works in “The Art of Russell Forester” have never been exhibited before.
Christine Forester, subject of a La Jolla Light “10 Questions” column in 2008, went on to start her own branding/marketing company, and has been a valued member of local museum boards. She currently serves on President Obama’s Committee on Arts and Humanities.
IF YOU GO: “Space, Structure, Light: The Art Of Russell Forester,” is on view at Oceanside Museum of Art through Feb. 5 at 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside. Also see portraits of La Jolla art doyenne Ellen Phelan and her late husband, Jim, along with Ellen’s art notes, in the Marjorie Nodelman exhibit, on view through Jan. 8. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission: $5-$8. Free entry first Sundays. (760) 435-3720. oma-online.org/forester