OCEANSIDE — Daniel Foster has finished his first year as Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA) executive director and begins his second year with two impactful community outreach projects, among other accomplishments.
Foster came to the museum with a great deal of experience, and a healthy respect for where the young museum was in its development.
OMA formally opened in the historic Irving Gill building on Pier View Way in 1997, and finished a $6 million, 15,000-square-foot expansion by archetect Fredrick Fisher in 2008 under its first executive director Skip Pahl, who served until 2010.
From 2010 to 2012, under its second executive director Ed Fosmire, the museum updated its online presence and continued to push its exhibits and programs further with innovative projects including the Art After Dark series that fuses entertainment, interactive art and exhibits of off beat genres such as steampunk art. The Artists @ Work program was also launched, which shares entertaining live art with spectators.
Foster began in 2012 and saw the next step for the museum. His goal was to raise the museum’s recognition level as a regional leader in the arts.
The museum is acknowledged for its excellent curating, but has not established a regional audience. Foster saw the need to build connections with surrounding communities and bring art to them instead of waiting for people to find the museum.
“The most important job for me is to aggressively start building bridges with new audiences,” Foster said.
First he created a focused vision with museum staff to anchor the museum’s efforts. Then he encouraged staff members to dream big on ways to bring art out into the community.
“We needed to establish a dynamic efficient vision for the museum,” Foster said.
The museum’s vision is to be a premier regional art museum in Southern California and a leader of arts and culture in San Diego North County.
To fulfill that vision staff works to raise awareness of the importance of arts and culture, and build collaborations with civic, economic and educational organizations.
“Outreach means more than an aggressive advertising budget,” Foster said. “Our approach is much more about going into the community and creating a portal for connection.”
Two great outcomes of these efforts are OMA exhibits at the Herbert B. Turner Galleries in Del Mar and the Exploring Engagement initiative throughout North County.
The Herbert B. Turner Galleries is an outdoor gallery set in the Southfair business center at 2010 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Turner, who is an architect and artist, built the window display galleries into the business center.
The galleries have not held exhibits for a while. OMA seized the opportunity to arrange a long-term lease of the outdoor galleries that lend themselves to 24/7 art displays and outdoor event space around the art.
“It was a natural,” Foster said. “We want this to be a really important showcase in North County coastal.”
The first museum exhibit currently on display at the galleries is “The Unerring Eye.” It features paintings by Turner and black and white photos of celebrities and the backside of the Del Mar racetrack by H. Montgomery-Drysdale.
Another great example of the progressive direction the museum is taking is the first Exploring Engagement initiative project that will begin Nov. 29 at the Westfield Plaza Camino Real Shopping Mall in Carlsbad.
The Exploring Engagement initiative is a two-year, five-artist residency project funded by the James Irvine Foundation to bring interactive art to unexpected locations.
The first project is varied art experiences ranging from social media to interactive catwalks, musical performances and puppet shows, set in a winter wonderland within the mall during the holiday shopping season.
“It’s designed to create different interactive participatory experiences in a shopping environment,” Foster said. “We’re honoring the path of making art part of our daily consciousness. Fundamentally everyone is an artist and has a unique special voice.”
The project is led by artist Armando de la Torre. It will be held through the holiday shopping season.