ONE YEAR, SIX ARTISTS, 92 MILES
SIX LOCAL ARTISTS have pooled their talents around one very big idea—our communal connection to and responsibility for our water resources—uniting their unique points of view in a new exhibit, The River’s Journey: One Year, Six Artists, 92 Miles, on view at the Wildling Museum of Art & Nature through July 9.
Initially joining together to experiment with the lesser-known medium of gouache (an opaque watercolor paint), the group— which includes Connie Connally, Holli Harmon, Libby Smith, Nicole Strasburg, Nina Warner and Pamela Zwehl-Burke—is united in a quest to use their art to inform the public about how the Santa Ynez River and the watershed functions and our individual responsibility to protect its viability.
“Originally, I was just enthralled with the medium of gouache,” says Strasburg, who saw the potential through the work of artist Thomas Paquette, who had a wilderness-themed show at the Wildling and also has some paintings in The River’s Journey. As Strasburg dug deeper into the subject matter of the watershed, “it became about so much more than painting the landscape.…I just keep reading and researching and discovering new connections.”
The group, now known as Rose Compass (named for the flower-shaped figure on a map and “like the compass rose, our work reflects our individual points of view”), is very dedicated to the project. “The three devoted plein air artists have gone out every single Monday for the past two years to paint the water in the area,” says Strasburg.
They routinely post their musings and progress on the project on the website (rose-compass.com) and are working to secure additional venues to showcase the breadth and depth of their work on The River’s Journey, which visually brings to the forefront questions of stewardship, preservation and conservation.
“Art starts the conversation while providing education and information that can change behavior and expectations at a pivotal moment in our new paradigm of water resource management,” says their collective artist statement. “When artists, scientists and water managers work together, we create a powerful and compelling message that moves the community to make better ecological and civic choices. Awareness, conservation, stewardship and collaboration will all be key to the new paradigm of protecting this resource and ensuring the longevity and viability of our entire community.”
Wildling Museum of Art & Nature is located at 1511-B Mission Dr., Solvang. For more information, call 805/688-1082 or visit wildlingmuseum.org.
This story was originally published in the spring 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.