Finding FiFI: 100th Birthday Month Is A Treasure Hunt for Art
Finding FiFi: Watercolor Travels with Florence Russell is a community-wide 100th birthday celebration of an adventurous artist and long-time Santa Barbara resident, Florence (FiFi) Russell, who traveled to over 25 countries during her lifetime doing sketches and painting. Throughout the month of July Santa Barbara art lovers can celebrate her 100th birthday by Finding FiFi and visiting each listed location where at least one original watercolor will be exhibited: CLAY Studio, Corridan Gallery, 10 West Gallery, Gallery 113, Goleta Valley Art Association/Goleta Library, La Cumbre Center for Creative Arts/Fine Line and Illuminations Galleries, Larry Iwerks Studio Gallery, Santa Barbara Art Association/Faulkner Gallery/Santa Barbara Public Library, Santa Barbara Fine Art Gallery, and Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art. Please check all venue websites and locations for hours. A more expanded exhibition will be available for the viewing public at the Larry Iwerks Studio Gallery, 958 Weldon Road, Santa Barbara, concluding with a closing reception on her 100th birthday, Sunday, July 24th from 2-4pm. The gallery hosts a monthly series of art exhibitions by contemporary landscape painters both regional and local. The Larry Iwerks Studio Gallery is open Wednesday through Friday by appt: 805-965-5486
Russell’s en plein air paintings reflected images in popular cities, sketching along the Seine in Paris, public markets in Mexico, the Mont Sainte-Victoire in Provence, to the valley of temples in Myanmar. From bustling Greek harbors, to bucolic barnyard scenes, Russell captured daily scenes repeated around the world with a fresh sense of color and an eye for composition. She said her goal has always been “to make painting sing.” Artist Penny Arntz, a lifelong friend said, “FiFi’s endless hand-crafted cards and invitations, neighborhood parties, and creative ideas fill my memory and my heart. Her focus is always on the future, her sharp mind, her painting; and her kindness to her wide circle of friends make her a true Santa Barbara icon!”
A 1944 graduate of Scripps College, Russell studied under sculptor Albert Stewart, painters Phil Dyke, Henry Lee McFee, Jean Goodwin Ames and Southern California Regionalist and mentor to many, Millard Sheets. After attending Claremont Graduate School, she furthered her education by attending the Rex Brandt Watercolor Summer School in Corona del Mar. She attended master class workshops with other renowned artists such as George Post, Joan Irvine, Gerald Brommer, the well-known artist Milford Zornes and continued to travel the world and paint en plein air.
Russell first moved to Santa Barbara as a child where her father was a physician and psychiatrist for Stanley McCormick at Riven Rock. She pioneered bringing arts education to Southern California museums and schools where she worked in the early ‘50s. During her lengthy career Russell was Education Curator at Long Beach Museum of Art; taught art and was the Department Chair at the Norwalk-La Mirada School District in Norwalk, CA and was voted teacher of the year. She also was the President of the Long Beach Art Teachers Association. She retired in 1998 and returned to her original home in Santa Barbara to continue a life of volunteerism, travel, and art. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and outdoor festivals throughout Southern California: The Santa Barbara Art Association, Goleta Valley Art Association, Semana Nautica Art Annual, SB Natural History Museum’s Art Walk, Long Beach Art Association, Los Padres Watercolor Association, The Lompoc Library and special exhibits sponsored by S.C.A.P.E.
All interested Finding FiFi attendees tare invited to drop off a 100th birthday card at Gallery 10 West, 10 W. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara during regular business hours, from July 1st though July 23rd. All cards will be delivered to FiFi on her birthday.