Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 9:04 pm | Fair 50º


Ruston Slager: Art and the Sea Blend in Benefit for Heal the Ocean

SCAPE artists to show off talents and passions as part of January exhibit, 1st Thursday reception

What is it about the ocean that brings out the artist within us? At the beach, children instinctively become sculptors of sand castles. Artists paint with pastels, watercolors, oils and acrylics to explore the ocean’s beauty and light. Within the sea, marine life inspires artists with their forms and movement. Some artists look at boats, piers and wharfs, capturing man’s relationship to the shoreline.

SCAPE (Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment) will be showing its ocean artwork Jan. 4-30 at the Santa Barbara Central Library’s Faulkner Gallery, 40 E. Anapamu St. SCAPE’s gala reception for the art exhibit is 5-8 p.m. Jan. 6 during the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization’s 1st Thursday Art Walk, with refreshments and finger-style guitar music by John Twyman.

The benefit show is called BIG BEAUTIFUL BLUE, and the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit Heal the Ocean will receive 40 percent of all sales. Heal the Ocean’s philosophy is that the ocean can no longer be used as a dump, and its mission focuses on wastewater infrastructure — sewers and septic systems — as well as ocean dumping practices that have contributed to ocean pollution. The group operates primarily in Santa Barbara County, but its methods are now serving as a model for other coastal communities across the country.

“I love underwater art,” said Hillary Hauser, executive director of Heal the Ocean and an underwater seascape artist who has painted scenes of a variety of fishes. Like many coastal dwellers in Santa Barbara, her living space and office have ocean art on the walls.

One of the show’s guest artists is Bud Bottoms, an internationally known sculptor who has lived his entire life in California by the sea. He became a committed environmental activist in 1969, when Santa Barbara experienced an oil rig blowout that polluted the Santa Barbara Channel and devastated local beaches, killing sea birds and marine life.

“Because seven-tenths of the planet is water, we should be called ‘Sea’ rather than ‘Earth,’” Bottoms said.

Bottoms’ artistic relationship to the ocean has developed over his lifetime.

“Having been an artist and skin diver from an early age, I painted underwater scenes until one night about 30 years ago I had a dream of a beautiful woman on the back of a dolphin leaping out of the sea,” he said. “This became the inspiration to follow my dream to become a sculptor of marine mammals.”

SCAPE member Larry Iwerks, a wilderness advocate and lifelong painter, creates art as a way of protecting and honoring the land and sea.

“The ocean is the artist, sculpting the coastline,” Iwerks said. “There is a continual conversation between the land, the ocean, the mountains and rivers.”

The art exhibit’s featured artist and juror, David Gallup, loves “getting under the water.“ Diving in the ocean is a primal connection and gives visual inspiration for his art.

“We are water,” Gallup exclaimed. “The ocean is the ultimate embodiment of the life force.”

Hauser is grateful for the artists’ support.

“Heal the Ocean is honored for SCAPE artists to focus their artistic talent on the ocean,” she said. “We feel the ocean is supreme art.”

Click here for more information on SCAPE (Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment).

Click here for more information on Heal the Ocean. Become a fan of Heal the Ocean on Facebook. Follow Heal the Ocean on Twitter: @healtheocean.

Click here for more information on the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization’s 1st Thursday Art Walk.

— Artist and musician Ruston Slager is a member of SCAPE (Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment) and a Heal the Ocean Advisory Board member.

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