The most comprehensive photography book of Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days has arrived just in time for this year’s Fiesta. Fiesta, The Celebration of Old Spanish Days is now available in local bookstores.
A. Arthur Fisher is a local photographer and graphic designer with a passion for Fiesta. Last spring, he successfully sought community support to self-publish a major coffee-table book of Santa Barbara’s biggest and most historic celebration.
Edited by Jim Youngson and sanctioned by the Old Spanish Days nonprofit organization, this impressive snapshot might be the first major publication of Old Spanish Days in its near 90-year history.
Fisher will be signing books from 6 to 7:30 p.m. this Friday at Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara.
The book is also available for sale at Granada Books, Jedlicka’s and The Book Den.
Old Spanish Days will be selling the book at many locations during Fiesta next week, including both the De la Guerra and Del Norte mercados, as well as Recepcion Del Presidente, Fiesta Pequena and the Celebracion de los Dignatarios (the zoo party).
Fisher is the owner of local design and publishing firm In Color, and he serves as the in-house photographer for both the Santa Barbara Bowl and the Arlington Theatre. This book is a labor of love for him, along with friend Youngson, a local public affairs consultant and former member of the Old Spanish Days Board of Directors.
This 240-page, 12-inch-by-12-inch coffee table book takes you through Old Spanish Days’ annual Fiesta celebration, event by event. The book contains more than 640 images, carefully selected from more than 50,000 photos taken over a period of 11 years. The result depicts a richness of perspectives in iconic locations, such as the Santa Barbara Mission, Santa Barbara Courthouse, State Street, El Paseo Restaurant, Earl Warren Showgrounds, and the classic mercados and cantinas.
“For three years, I served as the official Old Spanish Days photographer, which benefited me with privileged access,” Fisher said. “From front row and onstage with the dancers, to middle-of-the-street parade shots, to backstage and behind the scenes, the pictures here are from unique vantages.”
Perhaps more importantly, some 1,500 people grace these pages, from young beautiful dancers to past el presidentes, authentic horsemen (and women) and elegant palominos. This book truly represents Fiesta and its people in the 21st century.
“The purpose of this book is not to be a historical retrospective but rather to provide a colorful documentation of what you might see if you tried to take in all the major Fiesta events of today,” Fisher said. “People change, but the traditions continue, generation after generation. That said, the book is grounded with historical retrospectives and news clippings.”
Both Fisher and Youngson believe that decades from now these pictures will be viewed as a historical snapshot of the people and places that make up Old Spanish Days as it nears its 100th anniversary in 2024.
“There is no doubt that people will be celebrating Fiesta in Santa Barbara a century from now,” Youngson said.