Santa Barbara goes all out for van Gogh

Beginning in March 2022, visitors to Santa Barbara, CA can look forward to not only the highly-anticipated exhibition Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources, on view at and organized by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art February 27 – May 22, 2022, but also a plethora of performances, activities, and visuals occurring throughout the community with the participation of 17 partner organizations. Taking cues from themes in the SBMA exhibition and serving art lovers of every age, the community partners across the Santa Barbara community will immerse visitors in the visual imagination of one of the most idolized artists in the world through public art, music, dance, and theater performances, other museum and gallery installations, a virtual reality experience, and participative art classes.

The Through Vincent’s Eyes exhibition at Santa Barbara Museum of Art will present 20 works of art by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh in a sea of over 75 works of art by those that he admired, providing an unprecedented opportunity for visitors to dive deeply into the rich, visual culture of Van Gogh’s late 19th-century world. Celebrated works of art by Van Gogh will be juxtaposed with works by the many artists he admired, thereby dramatizing both the artist’s indebtedness to and radical departure from the art world of his day.

Visitors walking along State Street toward SBMA will be greeted by larger-than-life sunflower sculptures, painted by area school students and courtesy of the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture. Adjacent to the Museum, Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery will feature En France Encore, an exhibition from the estate of Leon Dabo, a French-born American artist who became well known before the First World War as a Tonalist painter. His work took a dramatic turn towards 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, an immersive environment 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 the work of Van Gogh. In addition, they will offer a student program and a series of lectures throughout the run of the exhibition.

Performing arts organizations will celebrate the influence of Vincent van Gogh 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. In addition, they will feature Romance in a New Key with guest artists the Silver/Garburg piano duo performing an interpretation of a piano concerto (for 4 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 present 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 present 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 their glorious 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 their 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 offer art classes on site and a special 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.

In addition to these community participants, SBMA will host a symposium and scholars’ day on Sunday and Monday, March 13 and 14, 2022, featuring art historians, conservators, and museum curators, to discuss the themes of the exhibition. Other Museum programming will include gallery talks and additional lectures by esteemed scholars, including Sjraar van Heugten, formerly curator of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and the SBMA Education Department will develop and present engaging events for the public and local students and teachers.

More details to come on

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