TAKE YOUR TIME: The group show on view at Santa Barbara City College’s Atkinson Gallery (721 Cliff Dr.) now through February 19 isn’t one you’ll want to breeze through. Each of the works included in Density is thick with visual detail. These are pieces crafted by hand in a slow, labor-intensive process, and they beg for an equally in-depth viewing.
Take, for example, Santa Barbara artist Ann Diener’s “San Francisquito #2.” At 40×60 inches, this mixed-media work captures the chaotic energy of the urban landscape in looping lines, grids, and slashes. Woven throughout the linear structure are elements of nature—a single bird, a leaf, a tangle of vines—a discordant yet strangely pleasing visual cacophony.
Also included in the show are eight etchings by Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick, on loan from Santa Barbara collectors Tom Morey and Michael Jameson. Fitzpatrick’s “Houdini’s Bird” is a treasure hunt in miniature that encourages viewers to spot the top hat, the snowman, the parachute.
In a show that’s stylistically different but equally complex, Barbara Baker McIntyre’s Fragments at the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Faulkner West Gallery (40 E. Anapamu St.) features assemblage works made from broken German doll parts unearthed from destroyed porcelain doll factories. The fragments date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and as such the artist treats them like artifacts, respecting their altered state while at the same time placing them in new contexts.
VARIED LANDSCAPES: For a somewhat breezier visual experience, swing by the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center (1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd.) before February 23 to catch works by members of the Goleta Valley Art Association. There you’ll find landscapes, still lifes, and abstract prints arranged spaciously in a room bathed in seaside light. The bird refuge, Hendry’s Beach, and the Wilcox property are all represented, though in some works, nature is abstracted. Susan Marshall’s “Silent Pond” evokes still water in black and grey-blue bands of color, while Christine Loizeaux prints with eucalyptus leaves, arranging their graceful curves against a deep green ground.
Lovers of landscape won’t want to miss Urban Light, the current show at Marcia Burtt Gallery (517 Laguna St.) through March 14. In “Urban Creek,” Marilee Krause finds harsh beauty in a concrete culvert, while Patricia Chidlaw’s “Jack in the Box” is a detailed study of neon and fluorescent light under a darkening sky.
Out in the Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang’s Elverhøj Museum (1624 Elverhøy Wy.) displays Essential Landscapes, paintings by Phoebe Brunner and Pamela Kendall Schiffer, now through April 18. Both artists take the rolling hills and coastal vistas of our region as their subject, showcasing the oak-studded valleys and fog-shrouded foothills we know and love.
BIG WINNERS: If it’s abstraction you’re after, stop in at The Arts Fund (205-C Santa Barbara St.). There you’ll find recent paintings by Hugh Margerum, recipient of an Individual Artist Award in 2008 and creator of large-scale, color-saturated canvases. The show, Circular Logic and Other Dilemmas, is up through March 12.
A few blocks away in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, the winners of another award have their works showcased at the Channing Peake Gallery (105 E. Anapamu St.) now through May 14. Design Matters honors the winners of the 2009 American Institute of Architects Santa Barbara Design Awards. The winning structures include both private and public spaces, from the Santa Barbara Bowl renovation by DesignArc with Handel Architects, to Casas las Granadas low-income housing by Peikert Group Architects.
One block away at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1130 State St.), you’ll find 40 paintings by some of the biggest names in 19th-century art. Delacroix to Monet: Masterpieces of 19th-Century Painting from the Walters Art Museum won’t be showing anywhere else on the West Coast, so make sure not to miss it: You’ve got until May 30.