What is it about the ocean that brings out the artist within us? At the beach, children instinctively become sculptors of sand castles. Artists paint with pastels, watercolors, oils, and acrylics to explore the oceans beauty and light. Within the sea, marine life inspires artists with their forms and movement. Some artists look at boats, piers, and wharfs, capturing man’s relationship to the shoreline.

Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment (SCAPE) will be showing their ocean artwork at the Faulkner Gallery, 40 E Anapamu Street in the Santa Barbara Library, from January 4-30, 2011. SCAPE’s Gala Reception for the Art Exhibit is January 6, from 5-8p.m. during the “First Thursday” Art Walk, with refreshments and finger-style guitar music by John Twyman.

The show is called Big Beautiful Blue. and is a benefit show, with 40% of all sales going directly to Heal the Ocean. Heal the Ocean is a Santa Barbara non-profit whose philosophy is that the ocean can no longer be used as a dump, and whose mission focuses on waste water infrastructure – sewers and septic systems – as well as ocean dumping practices that have contributed to ocean pollution. They are focused on Santa Barbara County, but their methods are now serving as a model for other coastal communities across the country.

“I love underwater art.” says Hillary Hauser, executive director of Heal the Ocean, and an underwater seascape artist, who has painted scenes of a variety of fishes of the sea. Like many coastal dwellers in Santa Barbara, her living space and office have ocean art on the walls.

One of the shows guest artists is Bud Bottoms, an internationally known sculptor who has lived his entire life in California by the sea. He became a committed environmental activist in 1969, when Santa Barbara experienced a human caused oil blowout which polluted the ocean and devastated the local beaches, killing sea birds and marine life.

Says Bottoms, “Because 7/10 of the planet is water, we should be called “Sea” rather than “Earth.” As Dr. John Lily said, “because Cetaceans evolved 30 million years before humans, the sea should be called The Cetacean Nation. It connects all the continents and interconnects us all.”

Bud’s artistic relationship to the ocean has developed over his lifetime.

“Having been an artist and skin diver from an early age, I painted underwater scenes until one night about thirty years ago I had a dream of a beautiful woman on the back of a dolphin leaping out of the sea. This became the inspiration to follow my dream to become a sculptor of marine mammals.”

SCAPE member Larry Iwerks, a wilderness advocate and lifelong painter creates art as a way of protecting and honoring the land and sea. “The ocean is the artist, sculpting the coastline.” says Iwerks, “There is a continual conversation between the land, the ocean, the mountains, and rivers.”

The art exhibits featured artist and juror David Gallup loves “getting under the water“. Diving in the ocean is a primal connection and gives visual inspiration for his art. “We are water.” exclaims Gallup, “The ocean is the ultimate embodiment of the life force.”

Says Hillary Hauser, “Heal the Ocean is honored for SCAPE artists to focus their artistic talent on the ocean. We feel the ocean is supreme art.”


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