Driving Distractions

Amy Gartrell’s Banner Art

For once, it’s imperative that Santa Barbara drivers pay attention to their surroundings while multitasking in the car. That’s because it is simply impossible to both talk on the cell phone while driving and look up at the artist-designed flags that line State Street this week. So put down those phones — maybe even park that car — because those flags, designed by artist Amy Gartrell, are definitely worth a long stare.

Part of her Bloom Projects exhibit at the S.B. Contemporary Arts Forum, these are not the usual cookie-cutter flags that Santa Barbara residents are accustomed to seeing hang from State Street’s light poles. Called “Growing Flowers by Candlelight (Part II),” they mark the city’s first shift from generic seasonal and often unrecognizable nonprofit flags toward something that give drivers and pedestrians a more quirky and unusual view down Santa Barbara’s most recognized street.

Along with the outdoor banners, Gartrell has seven other pieces on exhibit at CAF in Paseo Nuevo. They range from a printed nylon carpet to painted glass that mimics (as the title explains) “Tattered Lace.” Lace is one of the most common elements in Gartrell’s work and can also be seen in the design of the State Street flag titled “Pink Clock.” And since even a stopped clock is right twice a day, that’s a flag that may even prove useful for a multitasking driver, so long as they look up at the correct time.

These dynamic pink and purple flags will fly until July 17.  — Whitney Burke

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