“An artist cannot fail — it is a success to be one,” said Barrett O’Gorman, board chairman of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, who quoted Charles Horton Cooley during his welcome address on Thursday at the 38th annual Art Scholarship Reception and Exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s Family Resource Center.
O’Gorman, along with hundreds of art enthusiasts, donors, art instructors and board members, paid tribute to 21 local student artists who each received a $2,500 scholarship award and the opportunity to showcase their artwork at the Family Resource Center through Thursday.
The financial awards are part of the Scholarship Foundation’s Art Program, which invites high school seniors in South County to submit their artwork to be judged by a panel of local artists. This year’s panel of esteemed judges included Anthony Askew, Patti Jacquemain and Ro Snell.
Guests arrived promptly at 5 p.m. for a pre-reception held in the cozy, dimly lit space to meet with the budding artists and admire artwork created and explored with a different medium — charcoal, clay, oil pastel, watercolor, colored pencils and photography.
Each signature piece fashioned vivid images, settings and themes depicting an array of stories of personal perseverance, the cultivation of friendship, love of family, the onset of political and social struggles, rebellion, and the lure and solace found in nature.
Excitement stirred in the air as artists conversed with the crowd of admirers — each student standing proudly beside their artwork, many of them presenting a signature piece that was chosen from their collection in a gallery exhibition for the first time.
Student artist Chloe Stevens, recipient of the Bob and Vicki Hazard Art Scholarship and whose oil painting of a sugary donut beside a cup of coffee earned her the coveted Schall Family Best of Show Award for an additional $1,000, told Noozhawk that her grandmother influences her the most artistically.
“She taught me so many techniques with pastels, charcoal and paint, and with her help I felt more confident to try new things in life,” Stevens said. “I started doing art my sophomore year with my amazing teacher, Katie Alexander. The piece that was on display, Coffee and Donut, was inspired by Ralph Goings, but I added my own personality to the piece. It was my first oil painting, and I loved learning the process as I went along.”
Now a senior, she is indeed a natural artist. Her artwork was greatly received at the Santa Barbara Student Art Fund show last year, and after graduation Stevens plans to major in landscape architecture at the University of Southern California next year.
Before the reception, everyone gathered in the spacious auditorium across from the gallery for the award presentation. After welcome remarks by O’Gorman, guest speaker Patsy Hicks, director of education for the museum, spoke about the Celebration of Student’s Art and the positive impact of the artwork displayed in the Family Resource Center gallery, and noted that the rare opportunity allowed the talented group of inspiring artists a chance to realize their artistic vision in the process.
Next, Julie Whalen Schuetz, a member of the Art Scholarship Committee, introduced the 2017 Art Scholarship Award winners. Schuetz welcomed each student to the stage and presented each with an award certificate. Each student expressed their gratitude for being honored, thanking family members, art teachers, mentors and donors for their support.
“I am so honored to have been part of this event — and had my piece selected as Best of Show — given the quality of work in the competition. It is high praise,” Stevens said. “This show has inspired me to continue creating art in the years to come.”
Jack Landis, recipient of the Henry Van Schie Art Scholarship, explained to Noozhawk the history behind a close-up of his grandfather’s contemplative gaze as he smokes a cigarette.
“My grandfather has inspired me by all the events he’s been through in his life — like being a Marine and living through the 1960s civil rights movement, and getting his doctorate in education even though he was African-American,” he said.
“After college I want to try to get internships at maybe a magazine, or a studio in Pismo Beach run by Chris Burkard — who is kinda my role model — and just try to make a name for myself,” he said. “I would just say, don’t really care what other people think, just do what you think is dope.”
Will Goodnough, a senior at Bishop Garcia Diego High School and honored recipient of the Morris Squire Art Scholarship, stood beside his self-portrait, titled the “Den,” depicting a faceless form wrapped in a red straight jacket that explores both the freedom and confinement of one’s consciousness while trapped in a public setting.
“The Den, as a painting, is a neatly selected bit of self-criticism and internal dialogue,” Goodnough said. “I was standing surrounded by people in a crowded place, and for a short moment I wrapped myself in my red sweatshirt. I took this anecdote as a moment to reflect on the interplay between the perfect safety of insulation and solitude. To others, my taking shelter in such a way was perverse and bizarre, much in the same way people who seek that kind of isolation are seen as strange.”
Goodnough said he enjoys creating pieces using oil paint because of its versatility, longevity and body. He plans to pursue a career in studio art after receiving formal training at the California Institute of the Arts.
Emma Lewis, a senior at Dos Pueblos High School, showed a drawing of a scorpion-like insect incased by thick, red flames that earned her the honorary Gail Berkus Memorial Art Scholarship. She said her favorite medium is the use of a simple pen and ink, which she uses to achieve the very finest details. She plans to continue improving her craft and hopes to continue showing her work in other galleries as a student at UC Santa Barbara next year.
“Getting the art scholarship means a lot to me, and I felt like my art was being validated,” she said. “With all the cutbacks, many times there aren’t these opportunities out there and that can lead an artist to feel discouraged and feel like their art is not important. But it is now more than ever that we need the creative minds in our society.”
O’Gorman expressed similar concerns about the future of art education for inspiring students who seek to pursue a career in the arts.
“With college costs and student loans rising, these creative students have probably been told to pursue a more practical major, something that will guarantee a future income,” he said. “But these students, by choosing their passion — by choosing art over practicality — are therefore already successful by just having the courage to say, ‘I am an artist.’”
During closing remarks, Candace Winkler, president and CEO of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, stressed to the crowd of onlookers the importance of financially supporting art education for inspiring artists, citing a recent study by Americans for the Arts.
Winkler said the study revealed that 73 percent of people surveyed agreed that art is meaningful in their lives, and 67 percent sought out artistic opportunities that unify communities. But, only 27 percent of the population (more than one in four Americans surveyed) expressed interest in financially supporting the arts.
“There is kind of a disconnect from valuing and understanding what art brings to our lives and supporting those of us, these young artists, who are creating the artwork,” Winkler said. “I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for supporting these scholarships and supporting these amazing student artists who will showcase their work here at the museum. This is where the rubber meets the road; from here, many of these budding artists will also have the opportunity in the future to share their talents and artwork in other venues and museums around the nation.”
Since 1962, the Scholarship Foundation has provided more than 44,000 scholarships totaling $99.3 million for county students. Support from the Scholarship Foundation reached 3,019 Santa Barbara County students in 2016, with scholarship awards totaling $8.76 million in student aid. These feats have earned the Scholarship Foundation a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the nation’s leading independent evaluator of nonprofit organizations.
Some of the local donors will be honored May 11 at the 22nd annual South Coast Business & Technology Awards at The Fess Parker. The event will recognize local businesses and technical professions whose achievements strengthen the core of the South Coast while also supporting scholarships for students at UCSB, Santa Barbara City College or Westmont College who are studying business or technology.
Student scholarship winners
» Christina Andersonk, Deep Space Sparkle Art Scholarship
» Andrea Caudillo, Mercedes Eichholz Art Scholarship
» Raven Condron, Art Patrons Scholarship
» Keylin Davenport, Lawson Family Art Scholarship
» Josie Doughty, Rick and Regina Art Scholarship
» Sira Eriksen, Art Patrons Scholarship
» Will Fader, Paul Tuttle Design Scholarship
» Mia Franco, Deep Space Sparkle Art Scholarship
» Will Goodnough, Morris Squire Art Scholarship
» Rose Hillebrandt, Jack Baker Memorial/Wallis Foundation Art Scholarship
» Larissa Landeros, Lorna Hedges Art Scholarship
» Jack Landis, Henry Van Schie Art Scholarship
» Allison Larinan, Gail Berkus Memorial Art Scholarship
» Emmanuelle Lewis, Gail Berkus Memorial Art Scholarship
» Angelina Lusto, Frank M. Williamson Memorial Art Scholarship
» Harmony Reed, Amanda and Jim McIntyre Art Scholarship
» Emily Sam, Amber O’Neill Art Scholarship
» Chloe Stevens, Bob and Vicki Hazard Art Scholarship and Schall Family Best of Show Award Caius Sztuk, Adam Bertolet Art Scholarship
» Forrest Van Stein, Henry Van Schie Memorial Art Scholarship
» Margaret Wilde, Montecito Bank & Trust Art Scholarship
— Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.