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36 Artists, 36 Styles, 2 Days — Santa Barbara Studio Artists Hosting Open Studios Tour

By Kelly Kapaun for Santa Barbara Studio Artists |

On Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 23-24, art collectors, interior decorators and art lovers one and all will have a unique chance to discover world-class works, literally right in our own backyard.

Thomas Mann
Artist Thomas Mann

The 13th annual Santa Barbara Open Studios Tour is a two-day self-guided driving tour takes visitors through the region known as the “American Riviera”: Carpinteria, Montecito, Santa Barbara, Goleta and north through Santa Barbara’s wine country to Buellton. Some 36 studios will be open for tour guests.

The art is as distinctive and diverse as the award-winning artists themselves, ranging from landscape, contemporary and figurative painting to sculpture, mosaics and assemblage.

“The Open Studios Tour gives art collectors and enthusiasts a rare chance to experience art outside of a gallery or museum setting,” said Francis Scorzelli, Santa Barbara Studio Artists board president. “There is nothing like meeting face-to-face with the artists who create these pieces, and our tour artists are excited to welcome those who seek to appreciate the creative process.”

All participating artists are members of the Santa Barbara Studio Artists, a nonprofit, juried organization of professional artists dedicated to raising the profile of Santa Barbara as a destination for the arts.

Three of this year’s 36 tour artists are Thomas Mann, Diane Giles and Sara Lytle.

Mann has been painting since he was a teenager. He paints in an Impressionistic style and uses mostly acrylic and oils. He paints things that he loves, and that is mainly the beautiful California landscape.

Most of his work is created in his studio using his own photographs as a reference. Mann is a past president of the Santa Barbara Art Association. He is also a member of the Goleta Valley Art Association, the Art Guild of the Santa Ynez Valley and the Southern California Artist Painting for the Environment. He studied at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, Long Beach City College and Santa Barbara City College Adult Education.

He has exhibited and won awards in numerous juried shows. He has attended workshops with Marcia Burtt, Ken Auster, John Comer, Scott L. Christensen and others. His work can be found in many private collections in the United States and abroad.

Diane Giles
Artist Diane Giles

This is his sixth year participating in the Open Studios Tour.

For Giles, making art has been an ongoing process of learning and discovery derived from life experiences. It is an evolution of ideas and methods greatly influenced by many years of living, working and traveling abroad, particularly Asia. Chinese and Japanese brush painting played a large part in her early work.

Later, after a move to London, where she resided and worked for many years, she became interested in figurative work, which she continues today. Retiring from her interior design business in 1995, she was able to attend art classes at many of the art schools in London.

Her work has been influenced by many of the great figurative painters, particularly the California Expressionists. Since moving to Santa Barbara, 10 years ago, Giles has been working in acrylic and mixed media. While her paintings are figurative, they are also interpretive. In recent years, Giles has shown her work in juried shows at various galleries in Santa Barbara, including a solo show at CASA gallery.

In September, she will have a solo show at PORCH. This is her first year participating in the Open Studios Tour.

Sara Lytle
Artist Sara Lytle

Lytle specializes in mixed media on canvas and prefers palette knives and finger-painting over brushes. She was born in Arkansas, and later lived in Texas and Oklahoma, where she taught herself to paint. Lytle graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor of fine arts degree in textile design and began a career in fiber arts and event design.

In 1980, Lytle returned to painting and has been painting in her Santa Barbara studio ever since. Her work has been shown in various galleries throughout Santa Barbara County, Las Vegas, Oklahoma, Washington and New York.

A Preview Exhibition will give attendees the chance to map out which of this year’s 36 tour studios to visit during the two-day event. The exhibit is hosted by Corridan Gallery, 125 N. Milpas St. in Santa Barbara, through Aug. 26. The Open Studio Reception will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 22 and will allow tour participants to meet the artists while enjoying food and wine. The tour itself takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 23-24.

Tickets are $20, or $15 each when purchased in groups of two or more and include the Open Studio Reception and the Tour. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gallery. For tickets and more information, click here or call 805.280.9178.

— Kelly Kapaun is a publicist representing Santa Barbara Studio Artists.

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