Perhaps nothing says “Santa Barbara artist” more than an imaginatively constructed, breathtakingly situated home studio. From glass-walled terraces overlooking the Channel Islands to craggy mountain nooks lined with rock and jutting into the blue skyline, the variety, intimacy, and sheer beauty alone of the spaces that will be opened to the public this weekend as part of the annual Santa Barbara Studio Artists Open Studio Tour are sure to amaze. Add in the collective wisdom of 36 accomplished artists and the presence of their work, all of it to some degree the product of this remarkable culture and environment, and you have a recipe for aesthetic adventure of the first order. The Open Studio Tour takes place Saturday-Sunday, August 23-24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., but for the savvy visitor, it starts on Friday night, when the group will convene at Corridan Gallery on Milpas Street for a reception and exhibition.
That is where you can pick up your tickets, collect the specific directions and addresses that will allow you access to the tour on Saturday and Sunday, and discover the works that you will then pursue to their places of origin. In preparation for the annual event, which attracts hundreds of art lovers from all over Southern California, I visited painter Laurie MacMillan in her home above Foothill Road, and I spoke by phone with Sara Lytle, who will open the doors to her funky modern residence and studio adjacent to West Mountain Drive. MacMillan identifies time and geology as some of the main inspirations for her lush abstract landscapes and expressionist canvases. For Lytle, painting is an intuitive process; she aligns herself with influences like New York legend Jean-Michel Basquiat. For a chance to visit these creative types in their home environments, call (805) 280-9178 or visit santabarbarastudioartists.com.