Sarah Cain, Santa Barbara and the trees around your neighborhood

Sarah Cain, "Santa Barbara 2," 2011, acrylic and gold leaf on wall, canvas, stretchers. 96" x 81" x 12"

Sarah Cain, "Santa Barbara 2," 2011, acrylic and gold leaf on wall, canvas, stretchers. 96" x 81" x 12"

Over the span of this single week my friends, spring has announced itself. Sunday morning while on our walk David and I noticed green buds on the local sycamore trees and also tiny flower buds sprouting on the mock oranges. Yesterday the sycamores were already leafed out and the scent of mock orange blossoms had become a delicate but definite presence in the ‘hood. And this morning, with the oncoming rain, the moist air carried that scent much farther and also mixed in white sage from the house down the street. Good Lord my friends, this is heaven. (A quick update: getting on the Hollywood Fwy at Echo Park this afternoon I saw wisteria blooming. Really, really pale and stringy wisteria – but still. Yay.)

Last Sunday afternoon, under clear skies and with views of many snowy mountains, I swooped eastward on Sunset Blvd from Echo Park to North Spring Street in Chinatown. Way up the street I stopped my car adjacent the still new looking Historical Park and met Sarah Cain outside her studio. Yay.

Cain has an exhibition that I’m looking forward to at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum next weekend – so I’m taking the opportunity to visit SB, and OF COURSE I’m also going to see the Charles Garabedian show at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. A brief digression on Garabedian and curator Julie Joyce.

Charles Garabedian, "The Eunuch," 2003-2004, acrylic on paper

Charles Garabedian, "The Eunuch," 2003-2004, acrylic on paper

Garabedian is one of the many artists who studied and began practicing art making after World War II.

Garabedian is one who early chose not to pursue abstraction with his painting and, later, did not move into a conceptual practice – rather he has for 60 years pursued classical painting. Really classical: his works draw from myth and folklore. There’s a degree to which he’s paid a price for the purity of his pursuit. Quick question – as an artist do you find it easier to do what seems cool or is it pretty laid back for you to do what you think is right, even when this conflicts with your sense of coolth? Is it always possible to tell where self regard and community approval differ? I guess if I point this question at the human in us rather than specifically at the artist it is an equally vexed question.

Okay, I’m not trying to pose an either/or type situation where one is trying to make good work or one is cravenly trying to gain the approval of an imagined “in set.” I guess what I’m saying is…. GO TO SANTA BARBARA AND SEE CHARLES GARABEDIAN’S PAINTINGS. He’s been mushing viscous materials around paper and canvas for longer than you or I – or possibly even any of our parents – have been alive. And nothing trains like practice.

It is distinctly possible that you have not read Christopher Knight’s February 1 LA Times review of this exhibition. Now you will.

Julie Joyce, should you be recently in LA, for ten years curated the best program of exhibitions on the west coast at the Luckman Fine Arts Center. She did an amazing retrospective of Charles Gaines, she curated the first large survey of work by Kim Jones, the Mud Man. Hmm, there was a large-scale architectural installation by painter Yunee Min and more that I can’t recall off the top of my head.

Since moving to Santa Barbara in 2008 Joyce has presented exhibitions of work by Tony de los Reyes, Yinka Shonibare and Diana Thater. Good things have been happening up in SB, between Miki Garcia at the CAF and Julie Joyce at the Museum of Art there are real and compelling reasons to travel the ninety miles north.

I’ll be back later with more about my studio visit with Sarah Cain, including photographs, later.

Garabedian again, "Study for the Iliad (Two men and a woman)," 1992 acrylic on panel

Garabedian again, "Study for the Iliad (Two men and a woman)," 1992 acrylic on panel


  1. Garabeduan’s paintings are totally amazing. Totally weird and uncool and interesting and YAY for his show.

  2. Hi Andi, thanks for this comment. Yeah, I think Garanedian is wonderful, I guess you can tell. The LA Loucer site has many images as well as a link to a transcribed interview (I think I’m correct about the interview) and if you search Garabedian’s name on my site, it turns out I’ve written about him several times.

    The paintings and other work on your site are pretty interesting, weird and wonderful, Andi. Will you let me know if you show in Los Angeles?

    [email protected]

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