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California Architect and Artist Russell Forester (1920-2002), Original Drawing, Uniquely signed & dedicated to art professor Dr. David Luisi, 1982, Framed

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Here is a unique original hand signed, dated and personally dedicated drawing by the renowned American (West Coast) architect and artist Russell Forester (1920-2002). The work is elegantly floated and professionally framed.

This special piece came from the private collection of Dr. David Luisi of San Diego. The winning bidder will receive a copy of a poignant letter from Professor Luisi certifying the work's authenticity and explaining how he acquired it; After describing how he spent his youth visiting art museums. Professor Luisi writes, "Even though I lacked the money to purchase art from famous artists, then at least the slightest contact with them would...allow me to share some of their greatness. With this fantasy in mind I wrote to dozens of artists asking, if they would please send me an autograph... My pleas must have sounded so desperate that they responded not only with autographs but sometimes with small examples of their art, letters and other art memorabilia. Now that I am elderly and the stresses of those years have passed, I am deeply grateful for the kindness of these artists and the psychological lifelines they extended when I needed it most."

The Luisi collection was one of the very best of its kind ever to come to market. Last year, for example, we sold several postcards uniquely dedicated by sculptor John Chamberlain from the Luisi collection to a major Chelsea Manhattan gallery that represents the artist, and we have sold a few other autographs and drawings by other artists privately or through the auction houses. 

This original 1982 drawing remained in Dr. Luisi's private collection for 30 years. Luisi only sold it because of his advanced age. The provenance is impeccable as it was gifted and dedicated by the artist directly to David Luisi.

Unconditionally guaranteed authentic. A rare find! Framed, the work measures 9.5 inches (horizontal) by 10.5 inches. (vertical). The sheet itself measures 6 inches by 7.5 inches. Ships framed and ready to hang.

At the age of five, Russell Forester moved to La Jolla from Salmon, Idaho with his mother and younger brother. Earlier, his father, an architect, had abandoned the family. His mother became a librarian at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Russell graduated from La Jolla High School in 1938. Russell served in the Army Corps of Engineers (1943-46), where he worked as a draftsman alongside noted San Diego architect Lloyd Ruocco, designing replacement depots. Much of his free time away from the drafting table was sketching.

Eleanor Forester (born December 11, 1924, to Eva Lucille Puckett and George Albert Hedenberg) moved to San Diego with her mother and stepfather, Kenneth J. Darrell, in 1939. After graduating from Hoover High School she worked as a draftsman for Concrete Shipyards in San Diego designing barges for the war effort. At Concrete Shipyards, she met her future husband, Russell Isley Forester. They immediately hit it off, forcing the head of the draftsmen, Lloyd Ruocco, to move their desks apart since Russell spent too much time turning around to talk to her.

After the war, Eleanor and Russell married on April 13, 1946, in La Jolla. In 1948 Russell opened his first office as a freelance architectural designer. Formal study began at the urging of Lloyd Ruocco (and financing from the GI Bill) in 1950 at the Institute of Design (later IIT) in Chicago where Mies Van Der Rohe was spreading the International Style gospel. His foundation course focused on perception, space, light, proportion and texture. The young couple returned to San Diego when Russell's mother became very ill.

Eleanor built three houses with Russell (they divorced after 20 years of marriage); their first house at 724 Rushville Street in April 1948, a house on Hillside Drive in 1952 and a spec house in the upper Shores area in the early 1960s. Eleanor and Russell spent a year in Spain in 1955-56 while he ‘worked for a firm of engineers and architects on U.S. bases in Spain’ as designer and supervising architect. After two years he returned stateside ‘as a designer on the Los Angeles airport for the firm Pereira and Luckman.’

Eleanor was an accomplished and successful interior designer. Her company, Eleanor Forester Interiors, was based in downtown La Jolla. Her work included both commercial as well as residential jobs. She designed dorm rooms for UCSD and a string of banks, homes for Robert Peterson, Harle Montgomery, Joan Holter, William Karatz, and the Sampson, Mayne, Muzzy, Fayman, Kimmell, and Marston families, among many others. She also did residential work in San Francisco, Hawaii, Mexico, New York, and Montana. Eleanor was asked to write a monthly column for San Diego Magazine by Ed Self, the editor. She wrote the "La Jollans are Talking About" column in the early 1960s.

Russell opened his first office at 633 Pearl Street at the time his Rushville Street home was ‘chosen by a distinguished jury as one of the top residences in the United States for Progressive Architecture magazine. Forester’s second home at 7595 Hillside Drive was ‘displayed in an international architecture exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1952.

By the time he obtained his architectural license in 1960, Russell had already completed a wealth of modernist structures including his second home at 7595 Hillside Drive in La Jolla.

Known for not compromising his designs for clients, Russell was among the first wave of practicing architects to push Mies Van Der Rohe’s brand of steel & glass modernism on commercial and residential clients across San Diego. From his La Jolla practice Mr. Forester is credited with many high profile commissions for local art patrons Lynn and Danah Fayman as well as restaurateurs like Bob Peterson. For Peterson (Foodmaker CEO), Russell put Mieisian modernism into pop culture by designing the first Jack in the Box restaurant in 1951. As Jack in the Box “Machines for dispensing food” (Forester, 2001) grew to well over 200 drive-thrus inside 20 years, Peterson would also have Russell design the Family Tree, a more elegant setting for dining in San Diego, as well as his personal residence.

In 1962, San Diego & Point described his artwork as arresting, constructivist, severe, functionalist, and mainstream all in the same article. Of the second home he designed for the Russell family, the magazine stated “the house….has a quiet elegance and air of privacy. The feeling, both inside and out, is one of discipline without rigidity, elegance without opulence.”

“Had it been up to him, he would have gone directly into the arts (rather than architecture). He liked the Bauhaus ideology of diverse disciplines,” remarked widow Christine Forester. “Had he been an artist since his 20s he may have not been as productive. Russell was often discouraged from pursuing his art. By the time he devoted himself full-time to art in his 50s, there was a sense of urgency. By this time his hand was very secure and there was little waste and few mistakes,” said Mrs. Forester.

Russell Forester spent three decades juggling his passion and vision for fine arts and architecture only to give up the latter for the former in 1976. With the aid of his second wife and architectural firm partner, Christine, Russell began his full-time career as a painter and sculptor when many of his contemporaries were retiring or at least retiring their modernist principles for safer ground.

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