In a rare act of cultural collaboration, 14 Santa Barbara museums and art galleries have formed the Environmental Alliance of Santa Barbara County to launch a joint project dubbed Impact Climate Change & the Urgency of Now “to creatively explore the impacts of climate change through art, history, science, or nature” in an effort to “to inform, inspire, and prompt action,” according to the alliance’s website.
Leading the charge for this enterprise has been Stacey Otte-Demangate, director of the Wildling Museum of Art & Nature in Solvang, and Steve Windhager, director of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The 14 cultural nonprofits first came together during monthly Zoom check-in meetings held during the COVID shutdown. Out of that, Otte-Demangate posed the question, Why not come together to take on what she called “the issue of all issues”? The concept, she conceded, was initially a little fuzzy, but she’d also been cogitating since 2014 about an exhibit themed Fire & Ice: Our Changing Landscape, now one of the exhibits featured in the alliance’s climate change project.
The trick was for each gallery or museum to take a small enough bite out of a very huge apple so that those who experience can digest it. The point, Windhager and Otte-Demangate both agreed, was to engage, not to preach. Who knew, for instance, that whales in the Santa Barbara Channel help sequester carbon molecules lying at the surface of the ocean?
Some of the 14 museums and galleries opened their exhibits several weeks ago; others are doing so just now. They’re scheduled to run for three to four months. For more information, check out the Environmental Alliance of Santa Barbara County website at sbmuseumsalliance.org.