Saturday, March 19, 2011

Patricia Tobacco Forrester (1940 - 2011)

Patricia Tobacco Forrester, one of the DMV's best-known artists, and one with a huge artistic footprint outside the DMV as well (represented by some of the top art galleries in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, London, New Mexico, and locally by Addison/Ripley) died yesterday.

Born in 1940 in Massachusetts, Patricia Tobacco Forrester received her B.A. from Smith College (Phi Beta Kappa), where she had gone via a scholarship, in 1962 and her B.F.A. in 1963 and M.F.A. in 1965, both from Yale University. A 1967 Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, she focused her artistic eye with a love for nature that translated into gorgeous and daring watercolors of fauna from a viewpoint that transformed what she saw into grand fields of color.

Patricia Tobacco ForresterShe painted directly from nature, usually on very large scale sheets of up to 40 x 60inches paper. And she painted all the way until the end of her life, as she became as almost daily visitor to the The U.S. Botanic Garden, on the National Mall across from the U.S. Capitol. Even though Tobacco Forrester's last years were difficult as a result of a seizure that she suffered while visiting Costa Rica (to paint that antion's lush flowers and fauna), she nonetheless and almost daily carried her paints and paper to the Botanic Garden, set up and continued to create art all the way to the end of her immensely creative life.

Her travels, such as the trip to Costa Rica, was part of her routine to travel to exotic locales seeking the beuty of nature, though her home base has been Washington, DC, since 1982.

Prior to that (from the mid-sixties to 1981) she lived in San Francisco and she often returned to the Northern California region to paint the rocky coast of Santa Barbara or the rolling hills of Napa and Sonoma valleys.

Forrester became a member of the National Academy of Design in New York in 1992. Her work has been shown widely in hundreds of museum and gallery exhibitions across the United States and abroad for over thirty-five years.

Her work is in the collection of many major museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, British Museum, London, Brooklyn Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Library of Congress, National Academy of Design, Oakland Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and The White House, Executive Office Building in Washington, DC.

Forrester was also the recipient of a 2005 and 2009 Artist Grant from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities and she is represented locally by Addison/Riple Fine Art in Georgetown, where she had a solo show earlier this year in January.

Patricia Tobacco ForresterI've curated her work into a few exhibitions in the last decade or so, most notably at my "Survey of Washington Realists" which I organized about a decade ago and which hung, in a gorgeous salon style manner, work by over a hundred noted Washington realist artists. For that show Patricia submitted one of her gigantic watercolors, which due to its brilliant colors and size, managed to catch a lot of attention in a show full of gems from floor to ceiling.

About her life and her work, she said it best when she observed that "You cannot get closer to a landscape than sitting within it while you are painting it."