At Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery. Shows through Jan. 28.
Born in the depths of the great recession in 2008, this holiday group exhibition offers approximately 100 works of art all priced at $1,000 or less. The goal, according to curator Susan Bush, is to make quality work available to collectors who might not have the means to acquire something larger. While it began as a loose collection of work by people whom Bush knew and liked, regardless of whether or not they were represented by the gallery, 100 Grand has grown into a unique community event, the de facto salon of Santa Barbara’s art scene. Participation is by invitation only, so the artists know in advance if they will be included that year and thus have an opportunity to create something that’s compatible with the show’s practical necessity to focus on small works. This year there are more than 100 artists involved and 146 works up for sale, ranging in medium from many wonderful small paintings to origami sculpture by Alec Sherwin and sculptural relief made from recycled skateboard decks by Inga Guzyte.
Now that 100 Grand has gotten into its annual groove, there’s a sense that what’s on the walls is more than just a lot of great art; it’s a conversation and a celebration as well. Bush feels particular pride and affection for the opportunity the show affords to those artists who don’t have regular representation, saying, “I see people working really hard that haven’t been shown much, and selling a piece through 100 Grand gives them energy.” As an example, she pointed out a brilliant small painting by Theil Morgan, “Terns,” that shows birds and oranges in a complex, layered abstract space. Whether it’s to discover someone like Morgan or to relish — and possibly purchase — work by such Sullivan Goss stablemates as Hank Pitcher, John Nava, and Nicole Strasburg, you won’t want to miss this revelatory exhibit.