Abstract art by Kathi Scarminach | Credit: Courtesy

“Sometimes I wonder what might happen if I wholly committed to being an artist first, before other responsibilities, before other relationships, before anything or anyone,” writes Santa Barbara artist Kathi Scarminach on her website. We asked her to elaborate. 

“When I made that statement about what would happen if I jumped into putting my art before anyone or anything, I said it out loud to almost scare myself into getting clear about what it was that I wanted from my art practice. Was it fame and notoriety? Was it money? … Was I a ‘real’ artist if I didn’t sell my work and just did it for myself? What if I did become a successfully selling artist? Would that take me away from my family and friends?” said Scarminach. “To be honest, I don’t know that I have answered all these questions for myself yet, but with my solo shows I know that my intentions are becoming more transparent.”

Abstract art by Kathi Scarminach | Credit: Courtesy

Scarminach’s musings evoke the profound questions that not only surround the steps of beginning to create artwork, but also stepping out of one’s comfort zone in general. After past careers, or, as Scarminach coins them, “past lives,” working as a bilingual elementary school art teacher, a volunteer at the Rape Crisis Center, and an art tour coordinator, to name a few, Scarminach moved into her next life incarnation — creating artwork.

Running through May and June, Scarminach’s exhibit, titled Things Are Going to Get Easier: Abstract Art That Tells a Story, will take center stage at Elsie’s Tavern. Unlike her first show, Pencil Paper Paintbrush: A Passeggiata of Art and Writing, which embodied both an abstract figurative show as well as a physical dedication to survivors of interpersonal violence, Things Are Going to Get Easier is a fully non-objective abstract show composed of Scarminach’s abstract artwork and Japanese mokuhanga prints.

Abstract art by Kathi Scarminach | Credit: Courtesy

With a “past life” working with the Rape Crisis Center, as well as experience teaching a visual journaling workshop at UCSB for the Thriving Initiative, a nonprofit organization serving student survivors of interpersonal violence, Scarminach’s exhibition will continue her dedication to activism and healing with the show’s proceeds going to the Thriving Initiative.

Scarminach notes that her inspiration in creating abstract artwork is due its “ability to touch all people regardless of place, time, culture, faith, color, gender, etc. It is a birthright and part of our humanness. It can bring us together to share varying points of view and personal experiences as a way to connect us to one another.”

If you’re still unsure where to start when exploring the realm of the abstract, Scarminach offers a step-by-step guide, explaining, “My suggestion would be that they stand in front of the work and look at it for a couple of minutes.  Notice what kinds of things cross your mind, what images you notice, how the colors make you feel.  It is fun to do this with someone else, but you can do it alone too…. You don’t have to like it. In fact, it is okay if you don’t like it, but be willing to explain why. What is it that bothers you? … I am not trying to ‘sell’ anyone on abstract art, but giving it a chance just to have a conversation is all that I ask.”

Take a trip to Elsie’s Tavern (117 W. De la Guerra St.) within the next two months to view the work, and be sure not to miss Scarminach’s art reception on May 4, from 5-8 p.m. In doing so, bask in the universally encompassing yet ever mysterious nature of abstract art, and witness the culmination of Scarminach’s glowing talent.


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