The discourse about art can be boiled down to two questions: What do we like, and why do we like it? According to Nina Dunbar, executive director of the Santa Barbara Arts Fund, these are the fundamental ideas driving this summer’s salon series, which will offer a chance to see art in the context of six artists’ homes as well as a talk with the artists to meet, mingle, eat, drink and be merry.
“It puts (art) in a context where you can meet with others and learn more about art than you would reading a museum wall plaque,” she says.
Photographer/collagist Jane Gottlieb has turned the walls, ceilings and floors of her Riviera home into a splash of vibrant colors, just like her paintings. Below, Penelope Gottlieb works on her series of vanishing plant species.[/caption]The event comes one year after a similar series of 20 salons, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Arts Fund, which has long been promoting and supporting artists in the community. This time around, it’s a more scaled down effort.
The events came about after the Fund sent out invitations and the artists responded with their requests. Sometimes the pairings were suggested by the artists, and sometimes the Fund decided to play matchmaker, like in the case of the first salon and sculptor Joan Rosenberg-Dent, an honorable mention in the Fund’s 2008 Individual Artist Awards.
Dunbar visited the artist’s home, and the two began a dialogue about the architect Barry Berkus, who has collaborated with Dent on the design. Visitors to the salon will be able to tour the venue with both Berkus and Dent.
However, Dent’s other major influence is music. When she taught and worked in Ohio, the only two radio stations she could get were country and western/classical. All her works were white, she said. When she moved to a new city, the radio picked up jazz. To signal the change, her works became colorful and playful.
“Jazz is a ribbon going in and out of my life,” says Dent.
Responding to the artist’s love of Miles Davis, Stan Kenton and David Sanborn (her three favorites), the Fund thought to add a jazz band to Dent’s salon, so now Jon Brady’s ensemble will play the event.
The second salon involves the home of landscape architect and artist Isabelle Greene, whose San Roque home incorporates the latest in sustainability. Her “holistic” approach to landscaping involves everything from the choice of building materials to the plants in her garden, which, Dunbar notes, is currently in full bloom.
“She even collects her own rainwater,” she says.
When Greene approached them to open her home to a salon, the Fund introduced her to furniture designer and sculptor Bud Tullis. His work takes salvaged wood and transforms it into stunning, curvaceous works of art, which will be seen all over the garden.
The third salon, titled “Love in the Afternoon,” brings the dancers and choreography of Robin Bisio (herself an Arts Fund award recipient) to the spacious Montecito Valley Ranch of Dwight and Tina Coffin. This is a more traditional pairing, Dunbar says, of patron and artist. Bisio’s trio of dancers will be backed by musician Alixandra Macmillan-Fiedel.
The fourth pairing examines the topic of artistic friendships and how opposites attract. Photographer and collagist Jane Gottlieb took her very modern Riviera home and has turned the walls, ceilings and floors into a splash of vibrant colors, just like the one found in her paintings. Yet she’s good friends with painter Mary Heebner, who works in subdued colors and watery canvases. Both will be at Gottlieb’s home for a colorful journey.
Artist Penelope Gottlieb’s recent series of vanishing plant species “Gone” forms the backbone of the fifth salon, and for this, the Fund has brought in special guest Dieter Wilken, director for plant conservation at the Botanic Gardens. Wilken has been a scientific collaborator with Gottlieb for this project, and the Fund hopes to introduce both to patrons at Gottlieb’s home to show how art and science connect.
Finally, the salon series ends with a visit to the home of Lynn Montgomery and Richard Kriegler to discuss how art and commerce intermingle. For this salon, Kriegler hosts Justin Carroll, whose L.A. Design studio is behind the look of video game “Modern Warfare 2” and others. By coincidence, Carroll’s Garden Street home was once owned by Harry McGuire, who held his own salons there back in the day.
Dunbar hopes that all the salons will give guests a multifaceted understanding of how artists live and work in Santa Barbara.
THE ARTS FUND presents ARTISTS SALON SERIES 2010
Where: Various locations
When: Sunday through Aug. 1
Cost: $125 per salon. Buy four or more and get 15 percent discount.
Information: (805) 965-7321, www.artsfundsb.org