Visit downtown Santa Barbara for 1st Thursday, an evening filled with free art, culture, music and fun! The June 2 event will include nearly 40 cultural art venues eager to show off new exhibits, artist receptions, demonstrations and live music.

The arrival of summer makes a huge splash in this month’s 1st Thursday programming as venues showcase artwork full of sun, sand and surf.

Dive into the evening at Divine Inspiration Gallery of Fine Art, where “By the Beautiful Sea” is on display. The exhibition highlights paintings of and by the sea by local artists Tom De Walt, John Klippenstein and Rob Robinson. Fast Frame keeps with a summer theme as local artist Chris Potter rolls out his amazing views of Santa Barbara and the surrounding wonders of nature.

Across the street at the Santa Barbara Frame Shop & Gallery, local artist Fred Gowland showcases a variety of his work, with a water theme, in oil and watercolor.

Continue to ride the 1st Thursday wave down to Sullivan Goss as the gallery celebrates the opening of “Hank Pitcher: Tidal Forces,” the first solo exhibition in three years by local icon Hank Pitcher.

A Santa Barbara summer is not complete without the thrill of the Fiesta experience, and two venues this month are ready to get the celebration started early. Business First Bank will display a number of the 2011 Old Spanish Days Fiesta poster candidates, while neighbor Walter Claudio turns the studio into a gallery featuring 20 of the Juror’s Choice winners from the recent poster art competition.

Summer heat rises as Gallery Ten-Twenty-Nine serves up a “Taste of Summer,” a feast of paintings, collage and photography incorporating varied media to “kick it up a notch.” The feast will feature the artists of Step One, a local artists group with a mission to advocate, innovate and educate.

Finally, make your way to Casa de la Guerra for “This Santa Barbara,” a collection of Reeve Woolpert’s photographs of Naples on the Gaviota Coast that expresses a distinct, local spirit of place. This fresh perspective of Santa Barbara’s coastline fosters deep feelings of appreciation and a sense of intimacy, belonging and attachment.

While 1st Thursday offers extraordinary exhibits and paintings indoors, be sure to check out the performance art and live music outdoors. Museum of Woman takes over the corner of State and Anapamu streets with a performance that explores the nature of representation in art. Paintings are not just two-dimensional beauties; here, they talk back! Stop by the patio at 900 State St. to explore what the Summer Solstice Celebration has in store this year for the wildly exotic, “Jungle”-themed festival and parade.

Local band The Bomb will give an explosive performance in Paseo Nuevo Center Court as they entertain with a wide variety of styles, including motown, jazz, blues and funk.

Not sure where to begin the evening? Join the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative in a curated “Art Crawl” through the 1st Thursday festivities beginning at 5:30 p.m. in De la Guerra Plaza.

All of these attractions and many more are free during 1st Thursday. With nearly 40 stops on this month’s 1st Thursday map, there is sure to be something for everyone. Click here for more information and a complete listing of the specific programming at each gallery as well as all public performances and interactive exhibits.

— Ashleigh Davis is a marketing and events coordinator for the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization.