Steven and Sara Peterman’s art project on wheels rolls through Santa Barbara on August 1.

Technology be damned. People still like to write, draw, and imagine with real pencils and paper. And they still like to do it in a 32-page, saddle-stitch-bound, 5×7-inch, 100 percent recycled paper sketchbook. Witness Moleskine’s $626 million IPO. Or the arrival of the Brooklyn-based traveling Sketchbook Project, which pulls into the Santa Barbara Museum of Art this Thursday, August 1, from 5-7:30 p.m. in conjunction with the SBMA’s Labour and Wait exhibition. iPad you say? Forget about it.

The Sketchbook Project is the brainchild of the husband-and-wife duo Steven and Sara Peterman. They left their Williamsburg digs to hit the road, sharing stories and art with communities across North America. Think of it as a food truck with sketchbooks instead of tacos, filled with the wild imaginings of artists and amateurs from 8 years old to 86 instead of carnitas. It’s less fattening but equally enriching.

The blank pages of a sketchbook are a no-holds-barred invitation for artists and drawers of every ilk to let their pencils and imagination take flight. That’s been the mission for Steven Peterman ever since he graduated Savannah Art and Design.

“It’s about the collection as a whole — 28,000 stories being told by people in 135 countries,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to interact, to grow something bigger than me.” Like the public art projects of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Peterman’s goal is to connect people of all walks of life to projects that engage their imagination and creativity — whether they are professional artists or not — without the interference of gallery gatekeepers.

Visitors to the SBMA will have the opportunity to fill in two sketchbooks, paid for by the Museum, during a teaching-artist-led art project in association with the SBMA’s current contemporary exhibition, Labour and Wait. There’s only one rule: no glitter bombs!

For more on the Sketchbook Project, visit


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