February 23, 2007 — Santa Barbara's reputation as a photographic community began after the war when both the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) and Brooks Institute of Photography opened their doors in the 1940s. More than sixty years later, photography exhibitions remain an integral part of SBMA's program. The Museum continues this tradition with the exhibition, Made in Santa Barbara on view July 1 through October 7, 2007. This exhibition follows in the footsteps of the 1994 presentation of Santa Barbara Connection, which highlighted the works of 10 local photographers. The Made in Santa Barbara exhibition, however, is the largest undertaking of this kind to date, consisting of more than 100 images made by more than 40 Santa Barbara-based photographers.
The exhibition represents a melding of permanent collection works and images on loan by individual photographers — all of whom had lived in the Santa Barbara community for an extended period of time or who are presently residing here. The resulting exhibition represents approximately 18 months of preparation and more than 30 studio visits by SBMA Curator of Photography, Karen Sinsheimer and co-curator Rita Ferri. In regard to this exploratory period, Sinsheimer notes, "We selected those pieces to be included in the exhibition based on the strength of the work. After the final selection process, we found it interesting and exciting that the combination of the works from individual photographers and those works pulled from our permanent collection naturally proliferated into distinct themes for the exhibition."
The imagery of these groupings moves from classic genre, such as pristine landscape and portraiture, to urban and altered landscapes to documentary works of war and protest and on to new media and a site-specific installation.
While the majority of the works are from a contemporary time period - 1960s to the present - included are some more classic examples, such as that of Jesse Alexander, who was raised in Santa Barbara in the 1930s and 40s, and whose photographs capture such scenes as the early days of race car driving.
Made in Santa Barbara celebrates a more recent find in Hilary Brace, who earned an MFA from UC Santa Barbara in 1985 and has gone on to exhibit her work throughout California and New York. At first glance, her works seem to depict grand scenes of billowy clouds captured by remarkable aerial photography. In reality, these heavenly views are constructed in her studio in large dioramas of meticulously coiffed cotton balls. Brace's approach is characterized in her statement, "I approach working photography as someone who makes drawings. In these prints, I work with sculptural tableaux, in addition to photography and drawing."
The exhibition would not be complete without featuring the works of long-time Santa Barbara photography icons and supporters, such as the recently-departed Kathleen Barrows, who had a solo exhibition of her work entitled Flora at SBMA in 2004. Resident of Santa Barbara since 1996, Ms. Barrows was a Founding Board Member of the Center for Photographic Arts in Carmel, California and hosted artist-in-residence programs for such renowned photographers as Paul Caponigro and Lucien Clergue. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and her photographs are in the permanent collection of SBMA and private collections worldwide.
Through its broad scale and scope, Made in Santa Barbara provides an ideal opportunity to appreciate and celebrate the wealth of talent that has given Santa Barbara its reputation as an important photographic community.
Made in Santa Barbara is co-curated by Karen Sinsheimer, Curator of Photography at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and Rita Ferri, Visual Arts Coordinator and Curator of Collections for the County of Santa Barbara. The presentation will be accompanied by a publication, which will include a reproduction photograph and statement by each artist included in the exhibition.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is a privately funded, not-for-profit institution that provides internationally recognized collections and exhibitions and a broad array of cultural and educational activities as well as travel opportunities around the world.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA. Open Tuesday - Sunday 11 am to 5 pm. Closed Monday. Free every Sunday. 805.963.4364 www.sbma.net.