The captivating grounds of Casa del Herrero in Montecito were opened to the public for the Feria Andalusia Art Show & Garden Fair, one of two big fundraisers held annually at the legendary location.
Artworks capturing specific areas of Casa del Herrero were presented June 4 by 16 artists in the forms of oil, watercolor and pastel for bid around the gardens, surrounded by orchards and wooded areas and designed by landscape architects Ralph Stevens, Lockwood de Forest and Francis Underhill.
A limited group of guests enjoyed a beautiful late afternoon while sipping on libations and enjoying sausages barbecued on the same grill used nearly a century ago amid the lush and well-kempt gardens.
“While the original owner, George Fox Steedman, was an industrialist, he was also a silversmith and artisan. His wife, Carrie, was very interested in gardens and won awards for her beautiful flower arrangements,” said Jessica Tade, Casa del Herrero's executive director. “It seems only fitting that we would continue their interest in the arts by inviting local artists to exhibit at our summer event.”
The classic George Washington Smith estate was built in 1925 for George and Carrie Steedman on 11 acres and features Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, lush and gorgeous gardens, and a collection of 13th- through 19th-century Spanish furniture. Guests were led by docents throughout the grounds and home during the event to peruse this one-of-a-kind experience. Guests also were able to direct questions to the artists about their works and the sites chosen to capture in art.
The Steedmans moved into the house on the day of Santa Barbara’s 1925 earthquake, when much of State Street and the business district were destroyed.
George Steedman graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in engineering and was president of Curtis & Co. in 1915, when the company was awarded an ammunition contract from the British government. Steedman designed a plant that was able to double production.
In 2009, the property was designated a National Historic Landmark — the most prestigious historical designation in the United States — and the estate is one of the best preserved and historically significant examples of 1920s Montecito estates.
“Our summer event is all about the passion we have for our architectural heritage, the inspiration we draw from our local artists, and the feeling of connection we share as a community,” Tade said.
Casa del Herrero, House of the Blacksmith, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve the house, grounds and collection of antiques, books, drawings and horticultural records for public viewing with advance reservations and during select events.
“This year’s event raised more than $85,000, all of which will go to keeping the door of access open to all those wishing to engage with the Casa — to share our local history, to preserve our fine art objects and to keep George Washington Smith's architecture a vital, living presence in our community,” Tade told Noozhawk.
Support for Casa del Herrero provides critical funding to maintain, preserve and restore the property and grounds. Membership levels begin at $75 for the Forger’s Guild, including a Patron level at $500 and up to the Director’s Circle of the Casa Society for contributions to $5,000 with benefits such as access to one private daytime or evening event at Casa.
“There are so many people to thank for supporting our event. We really could not do it without our donors and sponsors,” Tade said. “I am also grateful to our artists who donated a portion of their proceeds. They say a rising tide lifts all boats. Through their support, our donors lift us up so that we can do our good work even better.”
Artists for the 2017 event included Meredith Brooks Abbott, Whitney Abbott, Nancy Davidson, Camille Dellar, Dennis Doheny, Pamela Enticknap, Priscilla Fossek, Rick Garcia, Wyllis Heaton, Ray Hunter, John Iwerks, Ann Sanders, Richard Schloss, Frank Serrano, Garrett Speirs, Thomas Van Stein and Ralph Waterhouse.
— Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.