Nicole Strasburg is a locally grown Santa Barbaran. After spending years roaming the UCSB campus where her father taught set & lighting design it seemed a natural fit to accept a fellowship to College of Creative Studies and later graduate in the studio art program.
Nicole has a long history with the local Santa Barbara art scene as contributing member of SB Arts Collaborative, past president of Santa Barbara Printmakers and current member of both Westmont Arts Council and Wildling Exhibition Committee. After owning and running her own studio gallery in downtown Santa Barbara for 12 years, Nicole closed her doors to be represented locally by Sullivan Goss and nationally by the Sundance Catalog.
Although starting her career as a figurative painter, nature became her constant muse. She spends a lot of time hiking the local beaches and mountains with her two border collies while visually recording her inspiration with sketches and photographs. She is a gatherer, walking and experiencing the land and then bringing those experiences back to the studio where it all seeps in and down. At the easel, emotions and visual accents rise to the surface where decisions are made and translated into compositions. The paintings become less about “place” and more about “a sense of place”.
Her most recent project The River’s Journey combined both her artmaking and her experience collaborating. Bringing together six artists to form the group Rose Compass, she proposed an exhibition to Solvang based Wildling Museum after being inspired by an exhibit there celebrating 50 years of the Wilderness Act.
Santa Barbara was in year 6 of the drought and water was the most prevalent conversation. The Rose Compass artists spent the next 14 months focusing on and painting the Santa Ynez River and watershed which provides water to the city and county of Santa Barbara. It soon became apparent that this was more than just an art exhibit, the more they learned the more they wanted to know. The group engaged community partners, water managers and environmental experts to better understand the subject they were studying and painting.
Throughout their journey, the adventures were captured in paintings and through stories documented on their website. These were preserved, along with the voices of the community, in a publication in order to carry this collective knowledge and visual journey beyond the experience of the exhibition. The book of gem like paintings furthers water education by focusing on conservation and creating a platform for open conversation about the shifting paradigm of water in our community.
Also showing with Sundance Catalog online