By Jason KUROSU
The works of local artist Louise Forbes will be on public display for perhaps the final time, as the Montrose gallery dedicated to her art will close its doors this December after more than three decades of operation.
Forbes passed away in April at the age of 89, leaving behind a lifetime’s worth of work, much of which is on display at Forbes Art & Frames in Montrose.
First opened in 1983, the gallery was open to the public five days a week until Forbes’ health declined in 2014. Now her son Doug and daughter-in-law Claudia have the gallery open whenever possible. Those interested in purchasing a piece or viewing the collection typically can visit with an appointment. But with the sale of the building and closure of the gallery imminent, Forbes’ family wants the public to visit and view the collection during what may be their last chance to do so.
Her signature style of oil paintings on wood and her Nebraska-born love of nature define much of the work found at the gallery, but visitors can get a firsthand glimpse at the development and evolution of an artist that tried her hand at a number of styles and mediums, from portraiture to calligraphy to florals.
Forbes and her husband John moved from Omaha, Nebraska to California in 1957. She graduated from the University of Nebraska, taught art at the McGroarty Arts Center in Tujunga and put on regular shows at venues across Southern California, including an annual show at Descanso Gardens.
Honing her craft over the years, Forbes found a home and a voice in transforming the swirling, abstract patterns of wood grain into gorgeous nature scenes, most of which featured animals.
“She used the grain of the wood to guide what she envisioned,” said Claudia, who said that Forbes’ love of nature led her to want to use “the living component of a tree” in her work.
Highly critical of her own work, art was clearly a labor of love for her. Much of the work is untitled or titled with concise names such as “Wolf” or “Tiger,” the relative unimportance of titles giving way to pure craft.
But despite the seriousness of her artistic endeavors, Claudia described Forbes as “always very positive and upbeat. She was the kind of person who saw the good in everything.”
It is uncertain whether Forbes’ work will ever be on display anywhere again other than the homes of her close and extended family members. The family has found storage space for the works, but the prospect of featuring the art in another proper gallery is up in the air.
The only certainty is that until the end of December, the community still has an opportunity to pay tribute to the life and work of one of its own.
Forbes Art and Frames is located at 2302 Florencita Ave. in Montrose, near the corner of Florencita and Ocean View Boulevard.
Call (818) 248-9580 to schedule an appointment.