By Deborah Young
“All the brilliant visions, all the multitude of colors, expressed with so much passion and power.”
What perfect words, written by my brother Greg, to describe the work of Robert Young. Young was an artist, painter extraordinaire who lived, loved and worked in Laguna for most of his life. He passed away on May 6 with his loved ones by his side. He was 75.
Young connected with the ocean as a young boy while playing in the surf near his family’s seaside trailer at El Morro. He spent time there as a lifeguard at Scotchman’s Cove and, as luck would have it, he served his tour of duty as a marine in Hawaii where his interest with the ocean and its inhabitants continued to grow. As a young man, he logged hundreds of hours under the water exploring countless coves along the coast, diving for dinner at day’s end, or just observing the wonders that lived beneath the surface.
It was his love for the sea that inspired much of his work as an artist. Young attended UC Santa Barbara as an art major and then went on to finish at Los Angeles’ Otis Art Institute, graduating with an M.F.A. in 1962. As soon as he could, Young returned to Laguna. He began exhibiting his expressive depictions of undersea life at the Festival of Arts in 1959 and for more than four decades never stopped painting. He was an enthusiastic and creative force who helped start the Sawdust Festival in 1968, serving on the board as its first grounds manager. Later, Young sold numerous originals to the expanding Chart House restaurant chain. He showed his work in venues throughout the area and established a following among fans and collectors who appreciated his innovative techniques and use of color. His work was highly regarded in the art community where he mentored and inspired many who knew him.
So many astonishing works of art were produced from his Roosevelt Lane studio-home, where he lived for 41 years. What a thrill and privilege it was to witness “magic happen” as each piece was conceived and brought to life. Like a member of the family, each was hard to let go.
Young’s lively, playful spirit and timely wit always kept us smiling. He was a loving husband, a doting dad, an admired artist and a loyal friend, who will be missed by us all.
A celebration of his life will take place on his birthday, July 23, at the park near his home at 5 p.m. Family and friends who knew him are invited to attend.