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PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Monday, October 17, 2016

Laguna Art Teacher Dug Uyesaka featured at Westmont’s Ridley-Tree Museum of Art

Laguna Blanca Middle and Upper School Art Teacher Dug Uyesaka’s work will appear in a mid-career retrospective at the Westmont RidleyTree Museum of Art in Santa Barbara this fall. The installation, which will run October 20, 2016 through January 14, 2017, will include a variety of paintings, prints, and assemblage from Dug’s childhood through the present day.
“Artists can be unassuming about their work and Dug seems reserved when it comes to promoting his art,” says Judy Larson, director of the museum. “But the art itself is anything but quiet. Dug’s assemblages and collages exude a boldness that ‘packs a punch.’ His prints, drawings, and paintings range from expressions of untapped energy to nuanced poetry. There could not be a better time to feature Dug Uyesaka’s work. Career-wise, his work is as good as it gets!”
Dug grew up as a third-generation Japanese American in Clovis, California, just outside of Fresno, nestled in the San Joaquin Valley. Coming from a blue collar agricultural background, he says he never anticipated pursuing a career in art—most specifically, art education.
“I always loved drawing and making things with my hands,” he says. “I’d never even been to a museum until I was in high school. My family definitely had concerns about me pursuing something like art as a career.”
But eventually, Dug’s passion won them over, and he went on to pursue an arts degree at UC Santa Barbara in 1975. He has been a staple in the Santa Barbara arts community ever since, later taking up freelance graphic design and even working with a local film production company as he continued his craft. He also taught afterschool art programs and art workshops. Still, it wasn’t until he joined Laguna’s staff in 2000 that he felt comfortable wearing the hat of a teacher.
“The university art curriculum was not as career-minded then as it is now,” he says. “I felt I had nothing valuable to share as an art instructor at such a young age. But now—many years later—I see the incredible value that art provides to our children. Art allows you to imagine and create, and to develop the craftsmanship to actually execute your ideas. Most of life is problem-solving, and art allows students to do that hands-on.”
In 2009, Dug received the Laguna Blanca School Faculty Excellence Award in addition to a William T. Colville Grant. In 2010 he received an Arts Fund of Santa Barbara, Individual Artist Award for Collage and Assemblage. For him, the Westmont exhibition allows for the added thrill of sharing with his students the artwork that he created in his youth.
“Art is the light, joy, and energy in our everyday lives,” Dug says. “It enhances everything around us, and I am so grateful to share my art with my kids here at Laguna, at Westmont, and throughout the greater Santa Barbara community.
An opening reception will be held at Westmont’s Ridley-Tree Museum of Art on October 20 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. (free and open to the public). Laguna English Teacher Charles Donelan, Ph.D. wrote the catalogue for the installation.
“I BELIEVE ART CAN BE MAGICJUST LIKE ITS ORIGINAL INTENTIONS SO MANY MILLENNIUMS AGO. IT GIVES ME A MEANS BY WHICH TO ATTEMPT TO GRAPPLE WITH MANY OF THE GRAY AREAS OF MY LIFE. QUESTIONS THAT SOMETIMES DON’T HAVE ANSWERS ARE SOMETIMES THE BEST QUESTIONS WE CAN ASK OF OURSELVES AND, OF THE THINGS THAT BRING MEANING INTO OUR DAILY LIVES BOTH PERSONALLY AND AS A SOCIETY. I LIKE TO PEEK INTO THE FUZZY AREAS WHERE LINEAR THOUGHT DOES NOT ALWAYS HOLD REIN.” ~ Artist Statement
The Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art is one of Santa Barbara’s most esteemed galleries. It seeks to educate students and the larger community about the power and value of the visual arts in our world through physical, critical, and spiritual engagement with the creative process and its result. Visit www.westmontmuseum.org to learn more.
Laguna Blanca School is a not-for-profit EK-12 co-educational, college preparatory day school. Building upon its 80-year tradition of academic excellence with new and innovative teaching methods and programs, Laguna Blanca provides students with a supportive community that promotes deeper learning, and values student balance and well-being. With its thriving experiential learning, LEGO, STEM, and arts programs, competitive athletics, and state-of-the-art athletic facilities, the school offers a variety of ways that students can succeed. For more information, please visit www.lagunablanca.org.

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