What makes art more than a painting on a museum wall? One answer is the community. Art makes people want to go out, linger on the streets, and celebrate, and the art community in Santa Barbara is a shining example of “creative place making,” the increasingly popular term in public planning for thriving communities enriched culturally and economically by vibrant art scenes. Here, it’s composed of the underlying structure of galleries, museums, universities, collectives, and collectors and the blossoming mural movement of Fishbon and the Funk Zone.
On March 1, more than 100 community artists and celebrities are investing their time and talents at a fundraiser taking place at the Santa Barbara Art Foundry to support and celebrate another essential part of the art community in Santa Barbara: the Visual Arts and Design Academy, or VADA. A school within a school at Santa Barbara High, VADA integrates rigorous academic coursework with project-based and career-focused art and design instruction.
Saturday’s event is organized by Friends of VADA, a nonprofit organization of parents and community leaders interested in keeping the program alive. The setup is simple, too; buy a ticket and you’re guaranteed to walk away with an original work of art by an area artist or notable celeb. The roster of participants includes mosaic artist Dan Chrynko; creator of Stearns Wharf’s Dolphin Family Fountain Bud Bottoms; actor, artist, and musician Jeff Bridges; and fellow actor Billy Baldwin; colorist landscape artist Kit Boise-Cossart; Chris Potter and Jeremy Harper of The Oak Group; Santa Barbara Mesa Artists Ellen Yeomans, Susan Belloni. and Karin Aggeler; Dorene White and Marjorie Palonen of the Montecito Artist Group; plein air artists B.J. Stapen and Gerry Winant; race car photographer Jesse Alexander; contemporary realist Tom DeWalt; and the exuberant abstractionist Sara Lytle, among many others.
This long list of contributors is an impressive indication of VADA’s support system — even Mayor Helene Schneider has contributed a piece. Attendees will be included in The VADA Draw, a random drawing to determine the order the artwork is chosen; artist’s names are revealed after pieces have been selected.
Perhaps the greatest value is the works created by VADA’s students. “The future of our community, the new artists, are these kids,” said Marcy Oswald, vice president of the Friends of VADA. “If we can all come together and help support VADA, then we are investing in the future of our galleries and our community.”
The fundraiser will sell out quickly, but tickets are still available (for $150 each). They include entry for two, a work of art, a tour of the Art Foundry, and all the food, drink, music, and dancing you can manage.
So if you’re thinking of going out, lingering, and celebrating this weekend, we recommend you mosey on down to the Funk Zone on Saturday night. The VADA Draw takes place March 1 from 7-10 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Art Foundry (120 Santa Barbara St.). For tickets, call (805) 966-9101 x245 or visit vadasbhs.org.