Vincent van Gogh, ‘Les Vessenots in Auvers, 1890,’ oil on canvas from Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.

Vincent van Gogh, ‘Les Vessenots in Auvers, 1890,’ oil on canvas from Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. (Courtesy Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, Spain.

As the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) looks forward to the opening of Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources, on view Feb. 27-May 22, the museum has announced that Van Gogh will be celebrated throughout Santa Barbara with the formation of a Community Partner Program.

The partner project includes 17 local organizations that will offer a range of programming and visuals relating to Van Gogh throughout the run of the SBMA exhibit. Beginning in March, community members and visitors will find public art, music, dance and theater performances, other museum and gallery installations, a virtual reality experience, and art classes throughout the community.

Through Vincent’s Eyes will present 20 works of art by van Gogh in a showing of some 75 pieces by artists Van Gogh admired. The show will allow patrons to closely examine the rich, visual culture of the Dutch artist’s late 19th-century world.

Celebrated works by Van Gogh will be juxtaposed with works by the many artists he respected, dramatizing both Van Gogh’s indebtedness to and radical departure from the art world of his day.

People walking along State Street toward SBMA, at 1130 State St., will find larger-than-life sunflower sculptures, painted by area school students and courtesy of the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture.

Adjacent to SBMA, Sullivan Goss — An American Gallery will feature En France Encore, an show from the estate of Leon Dabo, a French-born American artist who became well known before the World War I as a Tonalist painter, but his work took a dramatic turn toward post-impressionism with pieces that show an influence of Van Gogh’s work.

Further down State Street, MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation will offer visitors a virtual reality experience called The Night Café that allows users to explore the world of Vincent van Gogh first-hand.

The La Cumbre Center for Creative Arts in La Cumbre Plaza will present Inspired by Van Gogh, a juried art show featuring works by local artists inspired by Van Gogh. The arts center also will offer a student program and a series of lectures throughout the run of the Van Gogh exhibition.
Performing arts organizations will celebrate Van Gogh’s influence as well, with the Santa Barbara Symphony presenting Sonic Boom with two works from the time, Poulenc’s “Concerto for Organ” and Saint-Saens’ “Organ Symphony.”

The symphony also will feature Romance in a New Key with guest artists the Silver/Garburg piano duo performing an interpretation of a piano concerto (for four hands) by Schumann and interpreted by Brahms, which was originally written in Van Gogh’s time.

Opera Santa Barbara will provide pop-up performances at SBMA with two works: “The Starry Night” by Jake Heggie with texts from Anne Sexton, Van Gogh, and Emily Dickinson; and “Dear Theo” by Ben Moore which are based on letters of Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo.

Ensemble Theater will perform, a staged reading of the play “Vincent,” a one-man play written by Leonard Nimoy about Van Gogh’s life and work as told by his brother.

Other community organizations will offer more intimate and participatory classes and activities.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History will present Art Meets Science: Pigments from Nature, with participants exploring the colorful world of natural pigments used by artists for centuries and wine painting.

Lotusland will offer adult and family friendly art classes, with students painting in Lotusland’s garden setting.

10 West Gallery artists will paint live from a vibrant bouquet of flowers inspired by Van Gogh, and as the moment moves them, they will paint or draw in any style from abstraction to realism.

El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel, will invite guests to the Cafe Terrace after hours to sip on a special themed cocktail under the stars, while enjoying a themed speaker series, poetry readings, or music inspired by Van Gogh’s art. El Encanto will also have art classes on site and a Van Gogh overnight package for out-of-town guests.
Other participating organizations include: Colette Cosentino Decorative Artist, La Arcada’s group of retail and restaurants, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, Santa Barbara’s Downtown Organization, and The Crafter’s Library.

SBMA will host a symposium and scholars’ day March 13-14 with art historians, conservators, and museum curators, to discuss themes of the exhibition. There will be gallery talks and lectures by scholars, including Sjraar van Heugten, formerly curator of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam; and the SBMA Education Department will develop and present events for the public and local students and teachers.

SBMA is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, and 5-8 p.m. Thursdays. Admission is free on Thursday evenings. For more, visit

TVincent van Gogh, Les Vessenots in Auvers, 1890. Oil on canvas. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza,
Madrid, inv. no. 559, 1978.41. © Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid.