Ask anyone who has ever been hounded by an impatient friend throughout a long New Year’s Eve celebration, and they’ll tell you — the question “what’s your New Year’s resolution?” is not always entirely welcome. In just such an intrepid, if sometimes reluctant spirit, I offer the following resolutions, in no particular order, for seeing and reviewing art in and around Santa Barbara for the year 2012. Feel free to enjoy pointing out my failure to live up to them any time.
SEE MORE OF GOLETA THAN UCSB AND COSTCO: There’s so much interesting stuff happening in Old Town and elsewhere, but it didn’t always receive the coverage it deserved in these pages. I’m thinking of Left Coast Books, where there were several significant shows, including Harmony Hammond in October and the recent Russell Crotty exhibition, Fragments from the West Coast: A Peculiar Surf Vernacular, as well as the ongoing activities of such groups as the Can(n)on Studio at 375 Pine Avenue. The next event on this resolution’s calendar is the Grand Opening Reception at Uppur Bunk, which will be on Thursday, January 12, from 5-8 p.m. at 158 Aero Camino Road, Unit C in Goleta.
HIT THE ROAD, JACK: Nothing refreshes like a good road trip. One direction I definitely intend to go this year is straight to Los Alamos, where the mother-and-daughter team of Connie Rohde Stanchfield and Nina Rohde Brown operate The C Gallery at 466 Bell Street. In fact, the next show at The C Gallery is a themed photography exhibit called Road Trip. It’s running January 21 through March 7, it’s curated by Kam Jacoby, and here’s the best part — it’s still open to submissions from January 11-14. Interested artists can find the entry form online at thecgallery.com/roadtripentry.html.
GET SOME AIR – PLEIN AIR: Judging at Plein Air Santa Barbara’s Paint the Town quick-draw contest in July was an eye- and a mind-opener. Chris Potter did an amazing job organizing the event, and as a result, the artists, despite being nervous about the competition aspect of the thing, really enjoyed the whole process. Judging, on the other hand, turned out to be harder than anticipated — there are so many different ways for a plein air artist to be good. The next place I’ll be going for some air is the wonderful Easton Gallery at 557 Hot Springs Road for the group show that’s there through the end of January.
RESPECT YOUR ELDERS: The night I moderated a panel discussion among artists who are in or nearing their nineties was one of the most memorable of the year. It occurred as a result of a show that Brad Nack curated at MichaelKate called Born in the ’20s, and which brought together work by Bob Rheem, Ken Nack, Ursula Pearl, Margaret Singer, and Freddy Caston among others. On top of the amazing Charles Garabedian retrospective at the SBMA (Garabedian is still active at 88 and was in town for the opening), this encounter confirmed my sense that the next major artistic revolution will reflect a new way of understanding later life.
GET INVOLVED POLITICALLY: Hands down the most educational assignment I enjoyed this year was moderating the City Council candidates’ forum on the arts, organized by the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative. First, I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the candidates, who were determined to listen and understand both the public and one another on the issues. Second, the process of investigating the assumptions about Santa Barbara implied by their positions on things artistic, from graffiti to the Granada, taught me a lot about why art matters to everyone in this city and not just those directly involved. Third, I gained a new appreciation for ways in which Santa Barbara circa 2012 represents the best of what’s happening in the arts worldwide. With a concerted effort to continue to listen and learn from one another, that extraordinary aesthetic success can be something we all share.