GOLDEN AGES: America in the 1920s was a country imbued with hope at the conclusion of World War I, infused with new economic prosperity, and fueled by a vision of a brighter future. The exhibit at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum (136 E. De la Guerra St.) on display through December 31 captures the energy and vitality of the roaring ‘20s through the work of artists who at that time called Santa Barbara home. Guiding Lights: Teachers at the Santa Barbara School of the Arts showcases paintings, etchings, woodcuts, and interior decoration by those who helped establish the city as a significant artistic community nearly a century ago.
Among the works on display are paintings by Fernand Lungren, the first president of the Santa Barbara School of the Arts, which flourished between 1924 and 1938 and provided education and training for thousands of artists of all disciplines. Alongside his scenes of urban Los Angeles hang Edward Borein’s dynamic images of the Wild West and Frank Morley Fletcher’s Japanese-inspired woodcuts of Northern California locales.
To the contemporary Santa Barbara viewer weathering the storms of recession and fire in recent months, this peek into pre-Great Depression California is a poignant reminder that bright times follow upon hard ones, and vice versa. Colin Campbell Cooper’s “Rattlesnake Canyon” from 1927 captures in oils a beautifully familiar spot now charred by fire, but one that will in time return to its verdant splendor.
For a more modern vision of our region’s changing landscape, head to the public library’s Faulkner Gallery West (40 E. Anapamu St.) before November 30, where Elizabeth Monks Hack’s vibrant paintings of Lompoc capture idyllic visions of a small-town landscape that’s fading fast. In “Edge of Town,” yellow sunlight washes over the cinderblock walls and neon sign of the Star Motel. “Watching the Dawn” is a slice of suburbia, where bungalows and four-door sedans slumber beneath an early-morning sky.
ART BY ASSOCIATION: Just outside the main Faulkner Gallery, now through November 29, you’ll find a group show featuring works by Santa Barbara Art Association artists, many of which find inspiration in our immediate surroundings. Albert McCurdy’s “Solstice” is a whimsical sculpture carved from the root of a crape myrtle tree: a tangle of feet protruding in every direction. Christine Loizeaux’s monotype triptych “Harbor Evening” captures sunset on water in brilliant pinks and deep greens.
For a departure into the land of abstraction, head over one block to Artamo Gallery (11 W. Anapamu St.), where the rotating exhibition up through November 29 features paintings by Julia Pinkham and Agustin Castillo, among others. The influence of Castillo’s Mexican heritage on his art is evident in his use of bright colors and earthy materials, while Pinkham’s love of surfing shows through in looping lines, watery drips, and large canvasses across which painted forms ebb and flow.
ALSO ON VIEW: November marks the anniversary of Kristallnacht, when anti-Jewish riots broke out in Germany and Austria in 1938. In commemoration of those events, Images of Resistance will be on view from now until December 31 at the Jewish Community Center (524 Chapala St.). The show includes photographs by Faye Schulman and paintings by Greta Schreyer.
Between now and December 18, Westmont College’s Reynolds Gallery (955 La Paz Rd.) exhibits a series of prints based on quilts sewn by artists in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. The quilters, who all are descendants of Southern plantation slaves, worked with printmakers to create etchings that capture the colors and textures of their work.
Next time you’re on the Mesa, stop by Santa Barbara City College (721 Cliff Dr.) to see “Three Triangles,” a sculpture by abstract artist Fletcher Benton that recently was bequeathed to the college by the Luria family and will stand outdoors between the school’s bookstore and gourmet dining room.