ONE COUNTY, MANY VIEWS: As much as anywhere in California, Santa Barbara County is renowned for its beauty. We’ve been blessed with natural resources to be sure—from the sparkling waters of the Pacific to the craggy peaks of our coastal range. But Santa Barbara’s beauty wouldn’t be so admired if it weren’t for the environmental preservation that’s an equally important part of our regional legacy.

Tonight, Thursday, October 7, the public is invited to a celebration of that legacy. The occasion is the opening reception for Art Inspired by County Parks, an art exhibition held in the County Administration Building’s Channing Peake Gallery (105 E. Anapamu St.). The works included represent views of the land overseen by Santa Barbara County Parks—beaches, bluffs, trails, historic landmarks, and open spaces that stretch from Carpinteria to Santa Maria. Twenty-two artists are included in the show, and each one of them offers a unique view of this landscape.

Goleta Beach stars in two watercolors by Elizabeth Hallowell, whose loose brushwork and subdued palette capture the coastline’s damp and wild splendor. Anyone who spent the summer here in town waiting for a beach day knows it’s not always bright and sunny, and Kate Connell’s photograph “Life Guard Tower, Arroyo Burro” gives us Santa Barbara in the thick of June gloom. Pale fingers of fog drift up from the sand—the only brightness here is the orange of manmade materials: a buoy, a traffic cone, and a lifesaving raft.

At the other end of the spectrum, Chris Potter’s oil painting “Courthouse Colors” sparkles like sunlight glinting off an abalone shell. Bright green palms cast indigo shadows on whitewashed walls, and violet clouds gather in a cerulean sky.

Curator Scott Canty has done well to include a wide range of media, styles, and subjects. Bill Dewey’s photograph “Cachuma Storm” looks down on the reservoir from a lofty perch. The real subject here is the sky—it’s moody and complex, thick with layered clouds that are mirrored in the water far below. Next to such a finely focused vision, Marcia Burtt’s “From the Bridge I, Orcutt Park” is nearly abstract, its smudges of deep green and purple-gray acrylic resolving into trees only when viewed from a distance. It’s a wild plunge of hillside into valley, with a skyline of eucalyptus in evening silhouette.

Noah Erenberg’s “Isla Vista Beach Park” is one of the works in the <em>Art Inspired by County Parks</em> show at the Channing Peake Gallery.

Every new frame in this show holds a revelation: a reminder that even when we cast our eyes over the same familiar terrain, what we see depends on how we look. Of all the works included here, none gets at this truth better than Noah Erenberg’s “Isla Vista Beach Park.” It’s an energetic dance of pink, white, blue, and green, and it bursts with the thrill of it all: this spot at the edge of the continent where water meets earth meets sky.

Art Inspired by County Parks runs through February 18, 2011. Tonight’s opening reception runs from 5-8 p.m. with an awards ceremony at 6 p.m. For more information, visit

A HEALTHY GOLDEN STATE: A golden stone strapped inside a translucent box of silk; a cigar box on legs with a postcard of Manila beneath its lid; a basket full of peepholes with beads woven into its fabric—these are but a few interpretations of Outside the Box. That’s the theme of Healthcare for All’s annual art show to raise money for its education fund. These boxes and others will appear next Thursday, October 14, at 7 p.m. at a silent auction held at the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center (1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd.). Proceeds from the auction will go to building understanding of the single-payer healthcare system. To see some of the boxes and to learn more about the cause, visit


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