Public art took flight at the Santa Barbara Airport for “The Art of Travel” fundraising gala on June 17 showcasing public art in the new terminal building expected to be fully operational this summer.

Guests walked a red carpet to the new 72,000-square-foot terminal designed in the tradition of the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style that defines Santa Barbara and decorated with artwork that adds local charm and grace.

Attendees were greeted with gold gift bags that held a wine glass for samplings from Central Coast wineries inside the terminal. Buffet tables were also scattered about with a variety of international dishes for the jet-set crowd.

The glassed-in patio area at the west entry provided guests with a path to another red carpet running onto the tarmac and an opportunity to tour Clay Lacy’s refurbished 1930s DC3 aircraft. Many guests stopped to pose for photographs in front of the historic plane.

A welcome message from honorary chair Patricia Griffin was followed by a speech from Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, who spoke of the role the airport plays as a “Gateway to the World.”

“I knew when I came in today that the new terminal was going to be pretty,” Schneider said. “But I have to say that I didn’t know how exquisite it really was.”

After a round of applause, Schneider thanked the crowd for their support.

“This isn’t just a Santa Barbara airport; this is a community airport,” she said.

Next, airport Director Karen Ramsdell presented an introduction to “The Santa Barbara Airport Experience.”

“The public art adds a new dimension to this terminal and reflects our culture here locally,” Ramsdell said.

Other gala highlights included artists in attendance, live jazz music and silent auction packages.

Silent auction packages included a Leisure category with a two-night stay at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. The Destination of Your Choice package included airfare within the 48 States, the Caribbean, Canada or Mexico. More than $22,000 was raised from the silent auction.

The airport terminal project was viewed as an appropriate time to formalize an informal arts program that started in 1990. The public art program at SBA is made up of three elements: commissioned art, long-term loan of existing art, and rotating exhibits of regional art.

Ginny Brush, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, spoke of “The Art of Travel” and the artists’ attention to the uniqueness of the region.

“The vibrant artwork seen this evening will play a vital role in conveying a sense of place for most travelers who visit Santa Barbara and those of us who live here,” Brush said.

Three commissioned works are the initial pieces incorporated into the new terminal interior. Painted wood beam stenciling by artist Viyda Gauci titled “Santa Barbara Star Gazing”; a wrought iron railing by Colleen Kelly titled “Giant Brown Kelp”; and a 20-foot diameter mosaic medallion called “Santa Barbara 360 degrees” by artist Lori Ann David and sponsored by Santa Barbara Beautiful.

Artwork in the long-term loan program includes “Fiesta” by Channing Peake and a Santa Barbara Courthouse lantern from the 1940s that hangs in the entry pavilion.

A Marine Tribute sponsored by the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans’ Museum & Library is part of future commissioned art to be designed by Ojai artist Douglas Lochner.

Schneider summed up the evening’s events when she called out the beauty of the space and the finishing touches of the art.

“Tonight’s event is to support the Public Art Program, and that is what puts the icing on the cake,” she said. “It really makes the jewel that is our new airport terminal shine.”

Terminal Art Program gala sponsors included:

» Amelia Earhart Level: HNTB.

» Earle Ovington Level: Atlantic Aviation, Clay Lacy Aviation, PMSM Architects, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and Signature Flight Support.

» Channing Peake Level: Allied Waste, JBT Aerotech, MarBorg Industries, Red Mountain Resort, Southern California Edison and Yardi Systems.

» George Rhodes Level: Alaska Airlines, American Eagle, Ampco Parking, Citrix Online, Coastal Aircraft Maintenance, Frontier Airlines, Horsley Company, Lash Construction, Leigh|Fisher Management Consultants, Morgan Stanley, National Air Traffic Controllers Association and United Express/SkyWest.

» Additional sponsors included: Crowne Plaza Hotel Seattle, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, Herban Essentials, View Studio, Above All Aviation, Accurate Aviation, Avis Rent A Car, CASA Magazine, Easy Lift Transportation, Float Luxury Spa, Hertz Rent A Car, King Communications, Santa Barbara Natural History Museum and Santa Barbara Sailing Center.

» Contributing wineries and breweries: Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, Beckmen Vineyards, Bridlewood Estate Winery, Daniel Gehrs Wines, Demetria Estate Wines, Fess Parker Winery, Jaffurs Wine Cellars, Kalyra & M Brown Winery, Kunin Wines, Lafond Winery, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards, Melville Vineyards & Winery, Qupe Winery, Santa Barbara Winery, Silver Winery, Zaca Mesa Winery, Firestone Walker Brewing and Island Brewing Company.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews, and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.