The Final Eden: Early Images of the Santa Barbara Region

April 7, 2002 - June 23, 2002

Los Olivos ~ Oil paintings, watercolors and prints depicting the Central Coast of California between 1836 and 1960 and celebrating “its rural pristine and fertile nature,” were selected by guest curator, Frank Goss, for the exhibition at the Wildling Art Museum in Los Olivos, which opened on April 7. Goss titled the exhibition, “The Final Eden: Early Images of the Santa Barbara Region,” because it is his thesis that the paradise that once was California, a land of boundless resources and unlimited opportunities, has shrunk through urbanization and exploitation, and the Central Coast, not yet paved over, is “the Final Eden.”

According to Goss, artists from the dawn of settlements on the Central Coast, have recognized the Edenic nature of this area, and have celebrated its sensuous beauty through drawings and paintings of the landscape as well as in still-lifes and figurative work. The earliest image in the exhibition was a small lithograph of 1836 by John Hall Esq. entitled “Santa Barbara--Upper California.” It depicts a Chumash Indian in his canoe paddling along the coast with the Santa Barbara Mission, the Presidio, and the Santa Ynez Mountains in the background. The most recent was an oil painting by Santa Barbara painter Ray Strong, called “Season’s Change, Buellton.”

The twenty-five paintings in the exhibition were all borrowed from art dealers and private collectors. Most of those selected by Goss date from the period 1890 to 1930. Artists from this period of Santa Barbara’s history include Henry Chapman Ford (“Cascade in Bartlett’s Glen [Bishop Ranch] Goleta Valley”), Ludmilla Welch (“Butterfly Beach, Channel Drive,”), John Gamble (“Watering Hole, Hope Ranch”), Lockwood de Forest (“Sycamores, Hammond’s Beach”), Colin Campbell Cooper, (Santa Ynez Valley”) and Carl Oscar Borg (“San Marcos Pass”). Also included in the exhibition were two large oil paintings of the Santa Ynez Valley: from the 1940’s :“Los Olivos,” by the Russian-born Mischa Askenazy, and “Song of Spring” by the French-born Emil Kosa, Jr. “The Final Eden: Early Images of the Santa Barbara Region” continued through June 23, 2002. The public was invited to the opening reception April 7, 2-5 p.m. Goss spoke briefly about the exhibition at 3:30 p.m., and presented a slide lecture on May 29, 7:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.