Let’s accept the claim-and it’s no small claim-that, in mounting the show S.B. Art: A View from Here, East/West Gallery offers us a survey of contemporary art in Santa Barbara. What do things look like from here? In a word: attractive.
There’s a great balance of figurative and abstract art, and a nice showing of photographic works; the show is of one piece in the high-key attractiveness of its offerings. Transparency and shimmer seem to be important concepts. This is particularly true in the installation and photographs by Wayne and Penny McCall, filled, as if out of horror vacui, with objects made out of transparent glass. Or consider the strongest of the abstract expressionist works. In Hugh Margerum’s “Circular Logic,” transparency and delicacy of color evoke a series of evanescent baubles. Christopher Pilafian’s canvases are littered with lozenge shapes that only half abstract the effect of light sparkling on water, but with a palette that would do justice to the richest of tapestries. And although Richard Aber’s works are nearly monochromatic, their metallic tones and curving grids flicker across the walls with a liveliness that must be difficult to achieve without hue.
The figurative paintings continue these themes; not surprisingly, water and its enjoyment come up often, with Cayetana Conrad’s brightly colored “Girl on a Raft” floating on the swirling white surface of a swimming pool and Fred Gowland’s four cheerfully patterned “Nude Beaches.” Other photographs also feature light and water: Roger Eberhard’s untitled close-ups of plants are lit as if glowing from within, and John Patrick Salisbury’s “TID3” hovers aquatically within its substrate.
Certainly, any of these works would have a positive effect on your autonomic nervous system, so don’t go to the show if you are grumpy or feeling pretentious and want to stay that way. But just because they are so lovely doesn’t mean the works are shallow, either. It is possible to spend a long, thoughtful time contemplating effervescence. As the show suggests, that’s a particularly good paradox to look at from a place like here.