The River's Journey Opening Night

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Saturday's opening was tremendous. There are so many people to thank for the wonderful evening. For those of you who couldn't make it, you were missed. The show is at the beginning of it's long run and we hope that you make it a stop whenever you're in Solvang.

For those unable to attend or for those who couldn't hear me in the back of the gallery I'm posting my comments on the extraordinary journey of the past year painting the watershed.

"Before the existence of this exhibition, before this book, before even the idea for this show, there was a spark.

And that spark originated in this museum. It started four years ago with the show titled On Nature’s terms exhibiting the work by Thomas Paquette. Thomas is here with us tonight from his home in Pennsylvania as both guest artist and as the inspiration for this group.

His two works in this show represent the images that motivated our group to try the new medium of gouache. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is an opaque watercolor that has the ability to build layers like oil painting.

 Wilderness Islands ©Thomas Paquette   2.125 x 5.5"

Wilderness Islands ©Thomas Paquette   2.125 x 5.5"

Individually we all experienced his show and fell in love with these gem-like paintings. That so much could be contained in such a small space, offering so much more when you get in close to examine them was irresistible. So much so that the six of us went out and purchased materials to try it ourselves. For an artist that is the best kind of exhibition, the one that inspires you to paint or to try something new.

We all shared resources and materials, successes and failures, and in 2016 when Thomas was back in the area he was kind enough to meet with us and look at our efforts. It was at this moment when I saw all the work laid out for critique and looking at the room of my dear friends I knew we needed to create an opportunity to share this work.

It seemed obvious to me that it needed to be in this space, the place where we were all inspired. The original idea was to have a show about small gouache paintings. Simple.

This is where my journey began.

In 2016 Santa Barbara was in year 6 of the drought, Cachuma was at 10% capacity and we were receiving state water daily to keep the lake from becoming a dead pool. This was the seed for the project. It became the focus for the exhibition proposed to the Wildling Museum.

As a group, we wanted to focus on our diversity as artists who share a common love of the natural world.  If we were going to spend a year building a show we wanted it to matter. We wanted it to stand out. We wanted it to carry something forward.  Art has long served as an effective catalyst for increasing awareness and advocacy and Santa Barbara County has a long history of the artist as advocate and champion of land preservation.

We are a community that is in a continuous drought, fire, flood cycle. In addition, our population continues to grow. Our success and strength as a community to face our unique climate challenges will come from a thorough understanding of our water resource and how it is managed through these cycles. Even though we are a region revered for our conservation efforts, many of us are still unaware about where our water comes from, how resources are managed, who chooses those managers and how we can make an impact as individuals.

The truth: Water is a limited resource that affects everyone. Education is the most effective method of changing behavior.  The River’s Journey Project visually brings to the forefront questions of stewardship, preservation and conservation. Art begins the conversation and opens a path to the education and information that can influence behavior and expectations at a pivotal moment in our new paradigm of water resource management.

May this be the beginning of your own journey of discovering our watershed and the importance of it's preservation."