Friday, February 23 , 2018, 5:28 pm | Fair 58º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum Becomes Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

A long-standing, West Coast anchor for creative expression (and the only venue focused solely on contemporary art between Los Angeles and San Francisco), the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum will transition from an alternative art space to a contemporary art museum, henceforth known as the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCA Santa Barbara).

Following a thorough exploratory process with local, national and regional stakeholders about the changing landscape of the art world both regionally and abroad, the Board of Trustees unanimously resolved to change the name of the institution, to better address the true role of the museum. With significant funding from the James Irvine Foundation, the board has committed to a $3.5 million, three-year strategic plan that will chart an exciting new course for this distinguished organization.

“We are proud of this important milestone, which will increase our commitment to presenting the most compelling art of our time while also fostering greater creativity and participation within our community,” MCA Santa Barbara Executive Director Miki Garcia said.

Founded in 1976 by a passionate group of local artists and supporters, CAF was among a crop of alternative art spaces nationwide, which addressed a cultural void by presenting contemporary, avant-garde art of living artists. A forum for interchange between artists nationally and internationally, early exhibitions included work by Craig Kauffman, John Baldessari, Llyn Foulkes, Ed and Nancy Kienholz, Peter Shelton and Wayne Thiebaud.

On July 6, MCA Santa Barbara presents a major solo exhibition and accompanying publication of New York-based artist Dasha Shishkin and solo project by Mexico city-based Edgar Orlaineta. CAF thrived under the leadership of Betty Klausner as the first executive director and later through the guidance of Nancy Doll and others. Initially a roaming space, CAF found its first home in the historic Balboa Building in downtown Santa Barbara, before moving into the current 3,500-square-foot venue in the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center in 1990.

“Visionary past board members, along with community supporters enabled us to sustain a grassroots arts institution for 37 years,” MCA Santa Barbara board president Jacqueline Klein-Brown said. “Incredible work by a committed and forward looking group of past and current trustees has enabled this next chapter of expansion.”

Arts Forum has been a vibrant and relevant part of Santa Barbara’s thriving arts community for nearly four decades,” Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider said. “Organizations like MCA Santa Barbara add an essential component to our region’s strong cultural economy.”

Operating as a kunsthalle, MCA Santa Barbara is a noncollecting, nonprofit museum dedicated to innovative and experimental contemporary art and performance.

“We function as an incubator for new ideas and risk-taking artwork,” Garcia said. “As we position ourselves to be a contemporary museum for the 21st century, we are both adaptive and responsive, recognizing how to serve an increasingly larger audience.”

Garcia’s thoughts are reflected in a new mission statement: MCA Santa Barbara advances creativity and inspires critical thinking through meaningful engagement with the art of our time.

During CAF’s distinguished history, the following notable exhibitions have been presented: Home Show (1988) featured Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler, Lisa Hein, David Ireland, Jim Isermann, Joseph Kosuth, and Erika Rothenberg. Home Show2 (1996) featured Vito Acconci, Margaret Crane and Jon Winet, Dan Graham, Haha, Linda Hudson, Jean Lowe, Pepon Osorio, Buster Simpson, George Stone, and Allan Wexler, as well as the Michele O’Marah and the Home Show, Revisited (2011), which featured Piero Golia, Evan Holloway, Bettina Hubby, Florian Morlat, Kori Newkirk, Jennifer Rochlin, Ry Rocklen, Kirsten Stoltmann, Stephanie Taylor and Jennifer West.

More recently CAF presented exhibitions by artists EV Day, Luis Gispert, Sanford Biggers and Mario Ybarra Jr. as well as performances through the award-winning Forum Lounge series, by Lucky Dragon, Brent Green, and Davy Rothbart. Local artists featured at CAF who have since garnered international reputations include Jane Callister, Ann Diener, Penelope Gottlieb, Keith Pucinelli and Richard Ross.

— Jenn Kennedy is the director of marketing for the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara.

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