ash, mud, soot

We are just around the corner from the opening of our exhibition, “The River’s Journey” at the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature.

As I look out at the landscape of the front-country side of the Santa Ynez mountains and the Los Padres National Forest, these are the colors I now see: ash, mud, soot.

Nina Warner - ash, mud, soot. 2x6" gouache with ash, mud and soot, 2018

Nina Warner - ash, mud, soot. 2x6" gouache with ash, mud and soot, 2018

Up Paradise Road where the Santa Ynez River travels down between Gibraltar Dam and Cachuma Lake and where we started many of our paintings, the colors were the same. Driving along Hwy 154 past Cachuma Lake, still big patches of the same colors.

The Thomas fire has devastated Jameson Lake, just below the Murrieta divide that separates us from Ventura County and is the very start of our watershed. Gibraltar had already seen the Rey fire in 2016. Cachuma had the Whittier fire in 2017. Ash, mud, soot.

The Thomas Fire was bad enough. What no one expected was the “perfect storm” of scorched earth, a violent microburst of rain, run-off and flooding which lead to the worst disaster in the history of the community of Montecito. It is now February 2018 and no rain in any forecast and mixed feelings about getting any rain after 23 people lost their lives in the flash floods and horrific mud flows.

Montecito is where I live and work - it’s been a tough couple of months. I’d like to acknowledge all the people on the ground and behind the scenes at the Montecito Water District. It’s nothing short of miraculous that I can turn on the faucet and have clean water come out. Thank you.

Our landscape is forever changed and our community is forever changed. What has not changed is the drought and the need to be aware that every drop of water we use is precious. Our hope is that through the work in this exhibition, people will become better informed and more mindful of our unique and fragile watershed.