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New Book on Bill Adkins’s Art

J.W. Adkins Makes Art on Haley Street


ADKINS BOOK: Surely one of the city’s most distinguished addresses is 720 East Haley Street. And before all you real estate agents object that there are in fact many better zip codes in our luxury-home-saturated sanctuary, let it be understood that by “distinguished” I mean precisely that — “eminent, authoritative, and commanding of great respect.” The property known as The Loft — formerly the Hardwood Mill and today the home, workshop, and gallery space of J. W.“Bill” Adkins and his wife, Martha Adkins — is eminent in its manifestation of personal industry; authoritative in its strict adherence to fantasy, imagination, and whim; and commanding of respect from all those who see beauty in salvaged objects and aesthetic enigmas.

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Visitors who have happened upon Adkins and his garden of unearthly delights will be familiar with some of the fascinating assemblage works on the premises, but it’s a safe bet that none of them will have taken the time to examine Adkins’s work with anything like the attention and intelligence that’s been lavished on it by photographer Paul Wellman (The Santa Barbara Independent’s resident shutterbug) and his sister, book designer N.W. Hager. Their recently completed book project, years in the making, documents the wayward hammers, ornate nails, and myriad buttons, bells, whistles, and glass eyeballs that Adkins has pieced together during the past decades in a way that’s every bit as obsessive and transcendent as the work it records. Wellman’s sharp eye for the telling detail has been magnified through Hager’s design savvy to the point where it provides a kind of commentary on the logic — when there is some — and sheer extravagance of Adkins’s ongoing project. The Loft is available now through blurb.com in hardcover, paperback, and ebook formats, and it will make a most welcome and delightful holiday gift for that Santa Barbara art collector on your list.

Jon Ortner’s “Funk-Lapse The Painting”

FOR THE FUNK OF IT: Saturday, October 6, was Focus on the Funk Zone, and all sorts of thirsty and curious folks showed up to examine the collective creativity on display throughout this pocket of Bohemia by the train tracks. Over at MichaelKate, where Brad Nack regularly curates shows, there was an impressive group exhibit of paintings based on photos of buildings in the area taken by, among others, the talented Matt Straka. Although this idea generated many interesting images, it’s Jon Ortner’s extraordinary time-lapse impression of the Funk Zone as seen from the water off of East Beach that is not to be missed. If there’s a Turner Prize for Funk, it should go to Ortner, who took Nack’s suggestion about portraying the landscape of the Zone as a starting point and then leapt clear into space with it. Ortner, whose “Weathered Walls” grace some of the area’s most eclectic homes and offices, and who competes at the highest levels in the sport of motocross, has lived in Santa Barbara for a long time, and with this major painting, he has crafted something enduring out of his memories and vision for the neighborhood.

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