Just to the west of the 101 onramp on Garden Street, and within shouting distance of classy interior-design-centers-cum-art-galleries Cabana Home and MichaelKate, the Arts Fund offers some of the most stimulating and soulful cultural opportunities in town, not only for art lovers but for the artists themselves. The Fund’s Individual Artist Awards (IAA) are at once prestigious for the recipients and exemplary for the organization, showing how much a small group can do to promote an entire scene across multiple media. This year, honors were doled out in three categories — Two-Dimensional Figurative Work (James Petrucci, winner; Henry Rasmussen and Mary Carol Kenney, honorable mentions), Printmaking (James Hapke, winner; Alejandro Casazi, Stephanie Dotson, honorable mentions), and Solo Vocal (Geoffrey Hahn, winner; Kristen Reed, honorable mention). The categories change every year, as do the judges and the emphasis within the community. The judges are always outstanding practitioners with national reputations, and while last year the accent was on established artists in mid-career, this year the awards served to encourage younger people just starting out.
For Nina Dunbar, Arts Fund executive director, the challenge of running this nonprofit lies in maintaining the Fund’s grassroots identity while stretching to provide artists and the public with all the advantages and support it’s possible for the organization to give. “It’s still the Funk Zone,” Dunbar told me when I asked what the latest name was for the area, “and it’s still got the particular appeal to artists that comes with the authenticity of a working area.” As of this fall, the Fund will have been at 205-C Santa Barbara Street for 10 years, and during the course of the past decade, the area has risen up to meet the venue in creating a location that feels particularly open to the artistic community. Here are three reasons to head to the Arts Fund and support their programs. For more info, call (805) 965-7321 or visit artsfundsb.org.
1. The IAA Show: The current group exhibition, which features works by all those honored, including a video of Geoffrey Hahn performing, is an eye-opening mix of cutting-edge printmaking, dramatic portraiture, and subtly modified oil painting.
2. The Upcoming Double Trouble Exhibit: Opening on November 11, this show will be curated by artist and collector Nancy Gifford, who has a gift for seeing the hidden links and surprising twists that bind our city’s artists together.
3. The Ongoing Events at Adjacent Spaces: Both MichaelKate and Cabana Home have been presenting excellent art curated by S.B. luminaries like Edward Cella and Brad Nack. The Arts Fund gallery will be staying open with extended hours to accommodate the crowds that are sure to follow these events.