10 Questions for Rodger Heglar, artist and past president of the La Jolla Art Association


Rodger Heglar has made his mark in polar professions. For most of his career, he was a biological anthropologist who helped found the field of forensic anthropology. He was a professor at San Francisco State University and, at the same time, he handled human identification cases for the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office and neighboring counties and states. After moving to La Jolla in 1988, he joined the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s team until 1995.

Through high school, the Navy, the University of Washington and the University of Michigan, Heglar casually painted and sketched. In the mid-1990s, he got serious about his art. Today he has his own studio, is a member of several San Diego art organizations and is the immediate past president of the La Jolla Art Association. He paints during the La Jolla Historical Society and Mission Hills garden tours. Currently, Heglar’s work is featured in “Marine Art Show,” an exhibit that runs through July 27 at the La Jolla Art Association Gallery.

Q: What brought you to La Jolla?

In looking at retirement communities up and down California, my wife Mary and I fell in love with White Sands the moment we saw it. We’ve lived there 20 years, our apartment is right on the beach and the tide has become my heartbeat.

Q: What makes La Jolla special to you?

It has a unique quality, an intimate village feel, yet we’re in easy reach of the big-city attractions of San Diego.

Q: If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?

A more active art audience. Specifically, more patrons to support the outstanding array of artists in this area.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

In the past, painters and sculptors worked in horrendous conditions, with what now seems like primitive supplies and tools, yet they persevered and left us such great works. Today it’s easy to get discouraged in the creative arts - writing, painting, composing, etc. - so I admire anybody who sticks with it and can leave something beautiful behind.

Q: If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

Obama, for starters! Bill Gates. Claude Monet. Luciano Pavarotti. A steam locomotive engineer from the old days. The Dalai Lama. Fred Hulse, the anthro professor who mentored me. And either my wife or Heidi Klum - I’ll let you know.

Q: What are you currently reading?

“The Fabric of America” by Andro Linklater. It’s the story of how each of us is defined by the borders of our particular town, county, state, country, and how those boundaries came to be.

Q: What is your most prized possession?

A few personal items of my uncle’s and my grandfather’s.

Q: What do you do for fun?

Go out for coffee in the Village with my wife. We’ve both led busy lives and are still involved in a lot, so it’s good to take a breather now and then. We solve the world’s problems in places like Bernini’s Bistro and the Panini Cafe.

Q: Describe your greatest accomplishment.

I hope I have yet to achieve it, whatever it is!

Q: What is your motto or philosophy in life?

“It is what it is.” That sidesteps a lot of judgmental stuff that only leads to frustration all around.

Meet Rodger Heglar at the opening reception for “Marine Art Show” from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at La Jolla Art Association Gallery. More information: (858) 459-1196,