Deep into this ongoing pandemic-era business of “going to an exhibition” online — without ever leaving home — an intriguing experiential transference can sometimes occur. If one knows and loves a particular art space — such as the inviting (and still young and precocious) Westmont Museum of Art, on the idyllic Montecito campus — it’s possible just from seeing digital images to imagine the art living and breathing in that actual, familiar property/sanctum.
With a little wistful imagination, we can feel the presence of loaded pieces from, say, Alison Saar, Kiki Smith, and Charles Garabedian (Self-Portrait as a Bobble-Head), in the Museum context, even if the works never left the vault and made it to the gallery walls and floor. And it is a healthily expanding vault, nicely evidenced via the new online show “Selections from the Permanent Collection of Contemporary Art.”
Drawn from the collections of the late architect/collector Barry Berkus (and son Jeff) and Arnold and Marie Ford, the show allows us to peer admiringly into the museum’s collection, while shining a light on artists with Central Coast links and beyond. Two-dimensional pieces include the amped-up natural takes of floral and aviary subjects by Dorothy Churchill-Johnson and Nathan Huff, respectively, and one of Sandow Birk’s hauntingly beautiful, post-romantic prison paintings (as seen in a 2001 show at the old Contemporary Arts Forum).
Varying shades of articulate looniness grace sculptural work of Wesley Anderegg, Dug Uyesaka, Dane Goodman, and the late Keith Puccinelli. Museum-centric memories buzz here, between Uyesaka’s 2016 retrospective and Goodman/Puccinelli having memorably vivified the museum’s space with the uniquely collaborative show “Tug” in 2015. Notably — and geo-culturally correctly — this contemporary-art-focused selection also serves up a sub-theme of Latin American-ized art, including the consortium creative energies of the Cuban Los Carpinteros collective and the Mexican-American collective The Date Farmers.
Mexican-born Marcos Ramirez ERRE’s totemic sculpture “Toy An-Horse,” of wood, steel and red lava rocks, is one of many works on your screen begging to be seen and appreciated in the museum’s real space home. One day….
411: Through March 27, Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, westmont.edu/museum/contemporarycollection, (805) 565-6162.
Every day, the staff of the Santa Barbara Independent works hard to sort out truth from rumor and keep you informed of what’s happening across the entire Santa Barbara community. Now there’s a way to directly enable these efforts. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.