Review: Aquatic at the Santa Barbara Tennis Club

Artists compete to capture the essence of water

Scott Anderson’s detailed diving helmet

Susan Tibbles, curator of the Santa Barbara Tennis Club 2nd Fridays series, has selected a group of pieces that beautifully embodies the aquatic theme, ranging from the tranquil oil paintings of Rick Garcia to zany mixed-media pieces such as Lynn Brown’s glittering, feathery fish titled “Dorado’s Golden Beast.” Despite the diversity in style and media within Aquatic, Tibbles explains that during the selection process, she found a “rhythm that ties each piece together into a cohesive experience.”

Artist and teacher Dug Uyesaka judged the competition portion of the show and announced the winners at a reception on June 12. Uyesaka said that he searched for pieces that captured “the essence of Aquatic,” and his selection indeed managed to exemplify the creativity and skill that all of the artists in the show have to offer.

Earning the title of Juror’s Merit Award was Robin McCarthy’s “Fish. Out of Water,” a quirky yet delicate collage featuring a vintage image of a swimmer with the head of a trout carefully embroidered over his own. The innovation of incorporating embroidery with vintage images is exciting, and the skill with which McCarthy stitched the details alludes to her previous experience working with fabrics, but it is her sense of humor that makes the piece really memorable.

Liz Brady’s “Octopus #1”

Juror’s Choice went to “The Sea in Morning,” a pattern of undulating lines in various hues of blue acrylic paint by Erik Leighland. His experience studying illustration in school is noticeable in the rippling and careful strokes of blue running horizontally across the canvas.

The work that won Best in Show is “Octopus #1” by Liz Brady. The painted octopus tentacles swirl like tendrils in the middle of the image, thus matching the curling blue pattern of the water around them. The movement in the composition and the fluidity of its teal brush strokes demonstrate Brady’s love for painting water, which comes as no surprise for the winner of Aquatic’s top award.

Many other artists contributed to the beauty and harmony of Aquatic. On the wall to the right of the entrance, a detailed painting by Scott Anderson accompanies a peaceful photograph of the water’s surface by Stephen Robeck, as well as the Juror’s Choice winner. On another wall, Marianna Victoria Mashek’s watercolor-and-pencil images add a delicate whimsy to the show that complements the less representational yet equally beautiful expressionistic work of Karin Aggeler just to the right. The gorgeously colored paintings by Nancy Yaki and aesthetically invigorating design of David J Diamant, along with the rest of the works that decorate the walls of the tennis club, all add unique facets to the liquid gemstone that is Aquatic.

The exhibit will be on view until July 2, when it will be taken down to keep to the Santa Barbara Tennis Club’s impressive schedule of introducing a new art show every second Friday of the month. Aquatic has something to please every viewer, whether they’re lovers of the fine arts or just California beachgoers.


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