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Arts & Entertainment Presented by Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts


Museum’s ‘Carl Oscar Borg: Spirit of the West’ Features Never-Before-Exhibited Works

Works such as this from “Carl Oscar Borg: Spirit of the West” are on exhibit through March 10 at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.
Works such as this from “Carl Oscar Borg: Spirit of the West” are on exhibit through March 10 at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. ()

By Dacia Harwood for the Santa Barbara Historical Museum |

“Carl Oscar Borg: Spirit of the West,” a new exhibition at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, is now open to visitors.

The stunning display in the Sala Gallery features paintings by Carl Oscar Borg (1879-1947) from the museum’s collection, together with works on loan, seven of which are on public view for the first time.

Once a Santa Barbara resident, Borg’s life was the epitome of the “American Dream.” He was born in Sweden in 1879 and came to America as a young man in 1901. He worked a number of odd jobs before acceptance into the art community. Mostly self-taught, Borg would become one of the foremost names among early California artists.

The collection reflects his passion for the American West and Southwest, where nearly a century ago, the artist was commissioned by the University of California and the U.S. government to record the native inhabitants. It was through this work that he developed a deep understanding of the Navajo and Hopi peoples, who granted him unusual access to their communities.

“Carl Oscar Borg captured the spirit of the American West through a complex reflection between himself, the native people, and their landscape,” chief curator Daniel Calderon said. “This unique relationship, coupled with Borg’s own solitary and introspective nature, produced images of the West unsurpassed for their emotion and authenticity.”

Executive Director Douglas Diller said he is elated to introduce Spirit of the West to the community.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I welcome you to explore the work of this inspiring artist who left an indelible mark on the art community and beyond,” h said. “I also want to thank the supporters and lenders who made this possible.”

The exhibition was generously funded by Ernest Bryant III, William Burtness, Louise Clarke and John Carbon, Astrid and Lawrence Hammett, Marlene and Warren Miller, and Eleanor Van Cott.

The exhibition is on full view through March 10. Visit the museum 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. A docent-led tour is offered at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Entrance is complimentary, donations are appreciated.

The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is located at 136 E. De la Guerra St. For more information, click here or call the museum at 805.966.1601.

— Dacia Harwood is a media consultant for the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

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