PLEIN PERFECTION: Few things feel as good as when the separate pieces of some perceptual puzzle fall into place. Suddenly, a task that once required painstaking attention to detail blossoms into wholeness, the hard work of organization subsides, and a sense of completion takes root. The result can even achieve what Sigmund Freud memorably termed the “oceanic feeling” of oneness with the universe. Wandering through the exquisite grounds of Casa del Herrero last week in the company of several artists, docents, and Casa del Herrero Executive Director Molly Barker, I was struck by just this sense of putting it all together. Standing in front of the Casa’s famous Spanish fountain, admiring its gorgeous tile work in the cool of a slightly misty late afternoon, I asked painter Rick Garcia if he ever took inspiration for his representational paintings from the abstract designs in our city’s ubiquitous tiles. Garcia replied without hesitation: “Absolutely, yes, because as a former graphic designer, I am very aware not only of the repeating patterns on the individual tiles but also of how those patterns can be composed to construct a larger image.” Looking together at one such big picture formed by the tiles in front of us, our group grasped Garcia’s point at once, and with conviction.
This kind of euphoric “a-ha” moment is pretty much guaranteed on Sunday, May 19, when the fourth Preserving Precious Spaces event takes over Casa del Herrero. Friends of the Casa and patrons of the arts will join a group of 13 distinguished plein air painters to enjoy food, drink, and music at a special one-day-only exhibition of paintings inspired by this and other historic area sites. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the art sales made at Preserving Precious Spaces will go to help fund the stewardship and preservation of the house and gardens of Casa del Herrero, which has been certified as a National Historic Landmark. The featured artists include Garcia, Meredith Brooks Abbott, Whitney Brooks Abbott, Marcia Burtt, Chris Chapman, Nancy J. Davidson, Dr. James Dow, Ray Hunter, John Iwerks, Ann Sanders, Richard Schloss, Frank Serrano, and Ralph Waterhouse. The intimate connection between historic preservation and plein air painting comes gloriously alive whenever one has the opportunity to see the work in the location where it was created. Looking at different pictures of the same place done at different times yields a sense of narrative, even when there are no human figures present. Palm trees, fountains, agaves, and shadows become heroes in these enduring stories of our city’s most engaging and memorable spaces. The event on Sunday is limited to 150 guests, all of whom must park off-site and be shuttled to the Casa, so reservations are a must. To make yours, call (805) 565-5653.
SEVEN AFTER SEVEN: When the Preserving Precious Spaces event winds up at 7 p.m., or any other evening for that matter, art-minded individuals would do well to check out Seven Bar & Kitchen (224 Helena Ave.) in the Funk Zone. With a strong team of expert mixologists behind the bar, a kitchen dishing out delicious neo-comfort food, and Wallace Piatt’s paintings of proud, Warhol-esque Indian chiefs on the wall, it’s a great place to unwind and check out live music. Call (805) 845-0377 or visit sevensb.com for hours, menus, and info.