Holli Harmon

The Littlest Dam

Juncal Dam and Jameson Lake

A few days ago, Jameson Lake spilled over Juncal Dam. This is the highest, but smallest reservoir in the Santa Ynez Rivershed. This is the source for the Montecito Water District. When the lake fills to the brim, the water starts down its natural path known as the Santa Ynez River. The next stop is Gibraltar Dam and then on the Lake Cachuma which is bound by Bradbury Dam.

I have painted each dam several times…here are my interpretations of Jameson Lake and Juncal Dam. You can see the Rose Compass exhibit at Westmont Ridley Tree Museum of Art.

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The Last Straw as Juncal Dam

Our long history with drinking water has led to building 3 dams and reservoirs to meet our water demands in the city of Santa Barbara and Goleta. It seems dams and reservoirs are not the ultimate solution to water management, and these 3 dams are our "Last Straw".

The “Last Straw” paintings reference our recent ban on drinking straws (2018), which will help mitigate our plastic solution.

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Juncal Dam as a Teacup

"Juncal Dam as a Teacup."This conceptual piece shows the size and era of Jameson Lake and Juncal Dam which is our second oldest (1930) water reservoir in Santa Barbara County,. It's size and style of teacup is in relation to the Gibraltar Dam (1910) as Stacked Teacups and Lake Cachuma (1940) as a Jadeite Batter Bowl.


Jameson Lake As A Cowboy Bathtub

A Cowboy Bathtub is superimposed over Jameson Lake and Juncal Dam. This tub would have been common when the dam was built in the early 1900’s and is representative of the dam capacity in relation to Lake Cachuma and Gibraltar reservoir which are the other reservoirs that feed Santa Barbara County.

It's An Old Joke

California does have four seasons…

Fire, Flood, Earthquake, and Drought.



We currently are experiencing our Fire Season.  Unfortunately, for those of us here in Santa Barbara, this has been a very familiar reality in the last decade.  Cleaning ash out of my house and studio has been a too familiar task. In light of the reality of fire, I am grateful that ash is my only problem. If you live in California, you know too many people who have lost homes.

We are in a cycle that stems from drought…dead vegetation feeds the fire and then the fire scorches the bare earth that then that becomes mud that slides off with the rain.  Rain in California usually comes down in buckets unlike the steady rainy mist that falls in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, I hope we have a rainy winter, but can it come in slow steady increments, please?  I fear mudslides are in the future if our rain prayers are answered.

And just to keep things spicy….Earthquakes are just unpredictable…there is just no way to tell when they are coming.  Although, we do have an expression….”Shake and Bake Weather”.  It seems like we get to rockin’ and a rollin’ when we have unseasonably hot temperatures. If you haven't experienced an earthquake, you can always see the evidence.  Just look to the hills.  Our mountain range was created by these events.

No matter where you live, Mother Nature is the boss.

As Voltaire says…”Men argue.  Nature acts.”

Stay safe my friends. May your holidays be merry and bright.