South County Sampler

Friday, February 05, 2016 at 09:00 AM
Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 10:00 AM

South County Sampler

Eight Carpinteria Artists

Curated by Nancy Gifford

February 5 – March 26, 2016

OPENING Friday, February 5 from  5-8pm


In confectionary terms a “sampler” is a taste.  The purpose of this “taste” is to instill in the taster a desire for MORE.  That is precisely the outcome of this exhibition, South County Sampler, which spoons out singular portions of the fare of eight accomplished artists who all reside in the small beach community of Carpinteria, CA.  The result is a resounding need to visit their studios in order to see MORE of what they have to offer.  As if this feast is not enough temptation, five of them have studios with ocean views.  I only want to say that choosing only one or two works from each artist was a painful exercise in restraint.

  Alphabetically speaking, Sean Anderson is first on the list.  In his “Violet Basics” you will see a shock of purple glazing the surface of a Bolivian beach hut.  It communicates to us the imperiled primitive beauty of the jungle and fragility of its inhabitants, something he knows first-hand from his humanitarian work among the indigenous people.  He then abstracts the sub tropics even further in his “Auric Jungle” series of cast bronze “paintings”, all shimmer and surface.  Startling yet faintly familiar.

  Chris Baker is next.  His aptly titled “Large Interior” spans the entire 18 foot width of the gallery.  It feels like another room has been added to the space and we gaze past a dining room through the windows to a meadow and forest, transporting us out of the Funk Zone.  His wonderful light filled studio is lined in these large scale interior and exterior scapes.  Prepare to be transported.

  Stuart Carey flanks the opposite end of the gallery with his giant painting, “It’s Just a Gender Difference”.  With his 11-foot-tall gun toting femme fatale, decked out in high heels, feather hat and pearls, Stuart hopes to challenge the idea that men should rightfully dominate women.  Just because she initially makes us smile, that is her power, to disarm us so we can see the absurdity of prevailing social norms in many cultures.  Stuart hits us over the head with a velvet stick.

  Patricia Houghton Clarke is a photographer who refuses to be modernized in her choice of cameras or eternal subjects.  Choosing just one series from her many forays into contemplative studies of light, time and habitats was the biggest challenge.  We finally settled on a 2013 Series, “Diaspora” set in Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot.  People arrive then continually flee for more hospitable regions.  These spirit filled images capture a moment of longing in a nearly constant state of flight.  Haunted rooms in wait for the next wave of displaced migrants.  So timely, my heart ached when I saw them.

  Deciding on just three choices from Pamela Enticknap was tortuous.  She has such a vast range of techniques and styles she adeptly draws from, interchanging and mingling them.  I finally settled on some works on paper, dark and brooding and mysterious, consisting of layers and layers of hand-rubbed oil.  This technique encourages the images to “emerge” from the background, like they are being called forth by her sheer creative will but with an agenda of their own.   “Veiled” reveals the classic veiled bride with her shiny new ring, but her posture somewhat hesitant to take a step, almost retreating.  “Hanging by a Thread” and “A Capella 6” emerge from their darkness with their backs to us.

  Julie B. Montgomery’s intuitive action paintings reveal the structural geology of the mountains surrounding Carpinteria.  She sees “Striation” as an investigation of time, the sea, the wind and the exposed earth. An elusive stream of consciousness handwriting is imperceptibly woven into the layers to reveal the presence of inner thoughts but not their context.  This works to expand the mystery of evolution and the passage of time.  Each painting creates a yearning for further searching, for the next…

  Taking the drive into the Carpinteria foothills to visit the studio complex of Garrett Speirs is definitely worth the adventure.  The first building we visited houses his lithographic presses which would make any printmaker twitch.  He is a master of his art of the first order.  But moving on to his sprawling painting studio revealed the depth of his talents.  He is literally a “jack of all trades” and a master of ALL.    Choosing the two lithographs from his many flat file cabinets produced a kind of giddiness reserved for candy stores.  I finally settled on a very personal one titled “Heart” which he did after his brother’s heart attack.  I could feel the blood coursing through the chambers.  “Frayed Connection” paradoxically was chosen for its randomness.  It is a large lithograph of entangled rubber bands.  I loved seeing the rubber return to its natural state in the form resembling a tree trunk while still imbibing in sheer playful unexpected abstraction.

  Finally we arrive at the studio of beautiful painter Arturo Tello.  Even though he has an ocean view and is best known for his depictions of the Carpinteria bluffs and coastline, I perversely was drawn to a painting of a landscape in Marin County.  In “The Tao of the Cow” I stare into that barren hill with one grazing creature waiting for the rest of the herd to appear.  This uncharacteristic bovine seemingly oblivious to the rarity of his solitude.  Knowing they had to be there, just out of view, creates a ripple in the otherwise bucolic scene.  “The Long Wool Shed”, which resides on Santa Cruz Island, reminds me of country walks when suddenly a building juts out of its setting like an outcropping.  It doesn’t belong there but it has its purpose nonetheless.  Thus we and the landscape acquiesce to the intrusion.  Arturo is also a songwriting musician and composed a song titled: The Tao of the Cow: Live in the Now.  That is what his paintings make you do… be here now.

 A public reception will be held in the gallery on the evening of Friday, February 5th from 5:00-8:00 pm during the Funk Zone Art Walk. The exhibition will be held at The Arts Fund Gallery, located at 205-C Santa Barbara Street, and will be on view until March 26th, 2016. Regular gallery hours are Wednesday-Sunday from 12-5pm.  The exhibition is free and open to the public.

About the Arts Fund

The Arts Fund ( was established as a nonprofit in 1983.  The organization’s mission is to create, fund and administer programs that foster the arts for the people of Santa Barbara County, to maximize the effectiveness of arts resources, and to nurture collaborative relationships between arts organizations.

The Arts Fund is known for the Teen Arts Mentorship Program that matches promising high school students with professional artist mentors in intensive workshops representing all the cultural arts, and the Community Gallery which presents professionally curated art exhibitions featuring artists from across the county. Through its guest curator program, the gallery invites exhibition proposals from the community in order to provide diverse thought-provoking and exciting exhibits. For more information please visit or e-mail

Private donations are the essential source of funding for the organization. Please visit to learn about upcoming programs and events or to make a donation to support The Arts Fund. 

The Gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12-5pm



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