Saturday, August 15, 2009

Art and Commerce in Santa Barbara 1

[With apologies to SFMike of Civic Center for stealing his style of blogging for these two posts. It felt like the sort of thing he might do if he visited Santa Barbara, though he would have done it much, much better. Go to his blog and you'll see what I mean.]

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is located in a stately two-story building on State Street, the pricey shopping district in town. There are currently two shows running at the museum, the mis-titled Corot in California and the optimistically titled Brett Weston: Out of the Shadows.

The 19th Century landscape French landscape artist Corot never made it to California, but the show is instead a collection of several of his paintings that belong to museums from around the state.

Brett Weston is the son of Edward Weston, famous for photos of nudes and bell peppers. The elder Weston never made a living at photography, while his son did, but the judgment of history goes against the younger man. This is somewhat similar to the situation of Johann Sebastian Bach, an organist and choirmaster all his life, and his son Carl Phillip Emmanuel, who became a successful court musician and wrote God Save The King.

Sometimes history gets it right.

Santa Barbara's museum is small, but it has many lovely pieces from a variety of eras and locations. The Roman statuary here is on display near the entrance.

Much of the most famous works on display are from the 19th and 20th Century French artists such as Monet and Marc Chagall, whose work is seen here.

Much of the work that caught my eye was from modern artists I hadn't heard of before, including this 1943 work by the American artist Kay Sage entitled Second Song.

I also liked this disc of cast polyester by Fred Eversley, which is flat on one side and has what appears to be a parabolic indentation on the other. Besides the aesthetics of it, it reminded me of something Ken Rose told me about how the mirrors even bigger than Mt. Palomar's 200 inch mirror are cast in spinning kilns that naturally create an indentation to one side, which means less glass wasted in the process of making a perfectly smooth parabolic surface.

The second floor was reserved for the museum's collection of Asian art. The collection is much, much smaller than the sprawling Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, but there were some lovely pieces, including this colorful Tibetan sand painting.

I was very glad I visited and recommend it to anyone planning going to Santa Barbara in the future.


FranIAm said...

Oh I really have a strong urge to go to Santa Barbara right now. I have not been there in 10 years.

These are great shots of a wonderful museum.

Thank you Matty - this is my mini visit from here.


Utah Savage said...

You're breaking my heart with this trip back in time to when I lived in Santa Barbara and made a trip through the museum often. Now I'll go to back to bed and cry the tears of someone who is exiled from the one place in this country that felt like home to me.

Anne said...

Santa Barbara looks great.

You were lucky to see the sand painting. AFAIK, they are usually destroyed after making, as part of the ritual. It's a lesson in impermanence. The monks who made one in the Royal Academy Tibet exhibition in London a few years back were using ground gemstones for the brilliant colours. When the mandala was finished - having taken days to complete - it was swept up and scattered in the Thames as a blessing.

Matty Boy said...

I had no idea I'd strike such a vein of nostalgia for Santa Barbara. I agree it's a lovely place.

Anne: I agree completely. When I saw it on display, I wondered why it hadn't been destroyed, which I thought was the universal standard treatment.

dguzman said...

Did you know that Buffy's town of Sunnydale was modeled on Santa Barbara? Whedon said so.

And I STILL say Firefly wasn't as good as Buffy. Hmph.

Matty Boy said...

Hi, dg. I had heard tell of the Sunnydale/Santa Barbara connection. Nobody ever spent any time at the beach in Sunnydale, so I couldn't be sure.

I was a little surprised by the depth of feeling people had for Firefly as well, though I don't necessarily disagree with it.

I can also highly recommend Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog for any Joss Whedon fans out there. It is available on Hulu.