Former San Diego
art museum director
Sebastian "Lefty" Adler, 78, who elevated the reputation of what is now the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art during the decade he was its director, died of natural causes Monday at his home in Temple City, said his wife, Janet.
With an eye for emerging minimalists, he helped build a museum collection from 1973 to 1983 that was both hip and up-to-date at the institution that was then in La Jolla, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in 1999.
He was an early U.S. champion of Piero Manzoni, an Italian conceptual artist, and Arman, a French proto-Pop artist, and many others, said Jay Belloli, former director of gallery programs at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena.
"Fewer museums focused on contemporary art in those days," Belloli said, "and he took chances other museum directors would not take."
Born in 1932 in Chicago, Adler later lived in Wisconsin, where his father owned a mink farm.
Adler served in the Air Force in the early 1950s and earned a bachelor's degree in art in 1958 at the University of Minnesota.
In the mid-1960s, Adler served as director of the Wichita Art Museum, and after four years took the same position at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston before coming to California.
Known as talented but difficult, Adler was fired by the La Jolla museum's board after a decade, largely for the controversial way he dealt with people, according to a 1984 Union-Tribune article.
A father of three, Adler became an art consultant and moved to Temple City in 2000.
British film, stage
actress and writer
British film actress Joyce Howard, 88, who co-starred with James Mason in the 1940s thrillers "Terror House" and "They Met in the Dark," died of natural causes Nov. 23 in Santa Monica, her family said.
Born in 1922 in London, she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and soon was acting on stage.
She made more than a dozen films from 1941 to 1950, playing the title role in "Mrs. Fitzherbert" and appearing as a determined young woman who joins the military in "The Gentle Sex."
Throughout World War II, she continued to perform in the London theater, even as the city was bombed, her family said.