In 1997 Russ embarked on a brief sabbatical to the Amazon River to fly fish for peacock bass with Bob Koenke, editor of Wildlife Art News. During tranquil periods on the river, Russ contemplated the path of his trajectory and what direction to fire the next booster rocket in this phase of his life. Amid the screech of monkeys and the buzz of tropical locusts, he conferred with Koenke who listened patiently, then bluntly observed: “Kid, you’re a wildlife artist and you better start to realize it. So get your buffalo lined out and use the talents you were given.”
Russ Lamb went back to the drawing board. Literally. And as his images became more and more expansive so did his arsenal of media and materials. When daubs of Grumbacher’s weren’t enough to get the job done he went to gallon cans of Sherwin-Williams. When inked salmon failed to leap far enough off the paper, Russ went to wood and metal, to clay and mortar, anything he could get his hands on, with which to build multi-dimensional pieces that hummed with energy, installations that didn’t merely occupy space but commandeered it.
While experimenting with a broad and sometimes odd array of media, Russ developed an affair with acetylene, falling under the spell of its intense heat and magic…the wicked blue stiletto of flame. He became a master welder and fabricator, turning slabs of steel into suspended schools of cavorting salmon, and into ten-foot tall elk dreamers, and into soaring gateway Chaparrals.