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Arts Commission Announces ‘For the People, By the People’ Historical Exhibit at Betteravia Gallery

Have you ever wondered how the County government we have today evolved from the government of yesterday? The County Board of Supervisors with the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission has organized "For the People, By the People: Government at Work in Santa Barbara County 1850-1950," an exhibition of historical photographs documenting the origins of government in Santa Barbara County.

There will be an opening reception Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, from 5-7 p.m. at the Joseph Centeno Betteravia Government Administration Building. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

The exhibit is a collaborative project between the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, County Clerk of the Board Michael Allen, Third District County Supervisor Doreen Farr, the UC Santa Barbara History and Art History Departments and the UC Santa Barbara Special Collections Library.

The photographs document the economic, social and political growth of the county from its earliest beginnings, through the recovery after the great earthquake of 1929 to the influence of the Federal PWA (1933 Public Works Administration) and WPA (1935 Works Progress Administration) programs as the country emerged from the Great Depression.

Through this exhibition, we encourage all citizens to contemplate our history in order to gain a greater understanding of who we are today.

"For the People, By the People" coincides with the ongoing extraordinary digitization, archival storage and restoration of approximately 90,000 pages of historic minute books of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

This archival project will allow increased public access to government records, prolong the life of the documents through reduction of handling and professionally restore the ledger books.

“I’m excited to share the vintage photos, maps and artifacts that celebrate the diverse history of our county," Allen said. "I’m also very enthusiastic about making our 165-year legislative record available online, and I’m hopeful that others will find the passages as interesting as I have.”

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, who secured county funding for the digitization and preservation of the historic minute books, stated, “I am encouraged that this exhibition and corresponding restoration project will enable the public to make new discoveries about Santa Barbara County’s rich local history.”

The exhibition brings to life the history makers who shaped Santa Barbara County and helped define what it is today. In addition to the vintage photos, the exhibition will include a landscape painting by one-time Santa Maria-based artist Milford Zornes, who produced paintings for the federally funded Public Works of Art Project, (PWAP).

The Zornes painting is on loan from the Santa Maria Historical Society Museum. The Museum is also lending a life-size, vintage, hand-drawn hose cart from 1900, commonly used by fire departments all over the country between 1880-1930. 

Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam states, “The historic photos included in the exhibition — particularly the pictures chronicling the county’s rich history of oil production — are invaluable. These photos allow residents to see how our predecessors helped shape today’s healthy and vibrant landscape through the extraction of minerals and production of goods.”

The exhibition will be on view from Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, through May 6, 2016, at the Joseph Centeno Betteravia Government Administration Building at 511 E. Lakeside Parkway in Santa Maria.

— Lael Wageneck represents the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.


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