Offering an opportunity to peek behind the curtain and see where some of our favorite artists create their work, Santa Barbara Studio Artists’ 21st Annual Open Studios Tour is a rare chance to visit the studios of 28 local painters, sculptors, paper artists, collage, mixed-media, mosaic, and assemblage artists — each one as unique and inspiring as the individuals themselves.
For Danuta Bennett (danutabennett.com), who specializes in expressive, evocative realism and is one of this year’s featured artists, the annual tour is more than just an opportunity to sell her art. “Even though there’s not always conversation about art, it is still very warm and fun. And I kind of crave that kind of closeness with people who are receiving your art; it kind of makes everything comfortable,” said Bennett, who works out of the Clay Studio in Goleta, predominantly in acrylics, oils, and pencils.
Bennett said she is inspired by the people who visit her studio. “When I’m creating, I’m only with myself, and with the image or with the painting that I’m creating. When I’m opening the studio, in a way, it’s great, because I’m meeting new people, and I see their reactions. … Generally, I am very private, but then I’m putting my soul right on the canvas for everybody to take it and interpret and love it or hate it. But a lot of the times when I talk to somebody who has never seen my art before, they will notice different elements, they respond differently, and sometimes that allows me to get inspiration for the next piece.”
Additional featured artists on the tour are: Dorothy Churchill-Johnson (churchill-johnson.com), who is known for mural-size contemporary realist oil paintings; Cheryl Doty (doty-art.com), whose work includes abstract representational paintings, portraits, still lifes, and figurative work; Angela Ferraro (angelaferraro.com), who was classically trained in tenebroso (light and shadow) oil techniques in Italy; Betsy Gallery (elizabethgallery.com), a mosaic artist who combines classical handmade Italian glass smalti and 24-karat gold tesserae with recycled porcelain, ceramics, and found objects; Rob Robinson (robrobinsonart.com), whose expressive oil paintings reflect the world around him; and Eric Saint Georges (ericsaintgeorges.com), a Paris-born and -trained sculptor and figurative artist.
All 28 of the participating artists will have their work on view at the opening reception and tour preview on Friday, September 2, from 5-8 p.m. at the Community Arts Workshop (CAW), 631 Garden Street. Participating studios will be open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on September 3-4, and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on September 5. Tickets are $25 and available at CAW (during the tour weekend only), or online at santabarbarastudioartists.com. Ticket sales benefit the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara and Slingshot Art Gallery, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by supporting families, creating opportunities, and fostering belonging.